Pro-Life Indoctrination Video May Be Required in Some States

Baby Olivia is the starring character in an animated video that’s meant to visualize development in the womb. A voiceover introduces viewers to Olivia as an illustration of a fully developed baby in utero appears on screen. Olivia’s mouth and eyes open and close, and her hands move.

Bills in the Iowa, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia legislatures would require public school students to watch a video like Baby Olivia, which was created by an organization that opposes abortion. The legislation mirrors a North Dakota law passed last year.

That organization, Live Action, and supporters of the legislation say it would teach kids where they came from and encourage an appreciation for human life. But some educators and physicians say the video is deceptive and problematic for a young audience.

Live Action says on its website it “exists today to shift public opinion” on abortion and is dedicated to supporting a “culture of life.”

Live Action also is known for efforts to expose Planned Parenthood, publishing videos and reports obtained by posing as patients. Some of those efforts led a federal jury to award Planned Parenthood $2 million in damages in 2019.

The video itself shows the egg being fertilized and implanted, and further through embryonic and fetal development.

But the video calls out general markers in an “average developmental process” using “weeks after fertilization.” That’s different from “weeks after the last menstrual cycle,” which is what a pregnant person would typically hear from a doctor.

Iowa physicians and educators said this is misleading, and indicates milestones happen about two weeks earlier than is accurate.

The same critics said references to fetal “heartbeat” are widely disputed. At six weeks, the embryo isn’t yet a fetus and doesn’t have a heart.

The video also describes Olivia with words like “playing,” “exploring,” “sighing,” and making “speaking movements.” Those words assign human traits and properties to a fetus that are more sophisticated than medicine can prove.

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