North Dakota House OKs bill mandating fetal development video for students

The bill doesn't specify a grade level when students would see the video.

North Dakota Legislature
The North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck. Photo illustration by Troy Becker

BISMARCK -- School districts' life science curriculum would have to include a video of fetal development under a bill the North Dakota House of Representatives passed Monday.

The House in a 60-34 vote passed House Bill 1265, brought by Rep. Karen Anderson, R-Grafton. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The bill would add "a high-definition ultrasound video, at least three minutes in duration, showing the development of the brain, heart, sex organs, and other vital organs in early fetal development" to a school district's human growth and development discussion and human sexuality instruction. The bill doesn't specify a grade level.

Sen. Janne Myrdal, R-Edinburg, presented a sample video to the House Human Services Committee earlier this month. The video of "Baby Olivia" is from Live Action, an anti-abortion organization.

"This is the moment that life begins," a narrator says as a sperm cell enters an ovum in the video. "A new human being has come into existence."


When human life begins is a major point of debate regarding abortion.

Janne Myrdal

Myrdal said Live Action is willing to relinquish its rights to the video, take its name off, and provide it free of charge to the state Department of Public Instruction. DPI spokesman Dale Wetzel said the agency didn't testify on the bill; he didn't comment on the video.

Myrdal said she chose the video not for its source but for its content being "the shortest ... most scientific that I've seen, of quality."

Myrdal, one of the Legislature's most outspoken abortion opponents, said "the source doesn't matter in this instance, I think."

"If that becomes controversial ... it would be media making it controversial or the abortion industry making it controversial because of the source of the video," she told the Tribune.

She wonders what other source "would be acceptable? Planned Parenthood?"

Planned Parenthood is a reproductive health care provider that advocates for abortion rights.

Rep. David Richter, R-Williston, opposed the bill for setting academic standards outside of DPI rules and school boards.


Rep. LaurieBeth Hager, D-Fargo, opposed the bill for not being reviewed by the House Education Committee.


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