H. 662 an Act relative to instruction in pregnancy and pre and postnatal care.
1. The curricula for sexuality and reproductive health education in Massachusetts’ elementary and secondary schools is contained the “Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework, October 1999” (hereafter “Frameworks”), published by the Massachusetts Department of Education. It states in pertinent part, “Reproductive/Sexuality encompasses emotional and social elements with a focus on factual knowledge about physical development.” (emphasis supplied)
2. By the end of Grade 5, students are expected to recognize factors that “contribute to the health of a mother and fetus”.
3. By the end of Grade 8, students will know “behaviors and methods for pregnancy prevention” and the types of sexually transmitted infections (“STI’s”).
4. By the end of Grade 12, students will be able to identify “male and female reproductive systems over the life cycle,” list signs of pregnancy, be able to explain risks and precautions of delivery when HIV and STI’s are present, explain proper prenatal care, and distinguish among types of sexual risk, including pregnancy.
5. A related unit on Growth and Development, “addresses the study of the structure and function of body systems, …throughout the life cycle” and that “[s]tudents will learn the basic characteristics of physical growth and development, including body functions and systems throughout the life cycle,….” (emphasis supplied)
6. By the end of Grade 8, students are expected to “[i]dentify the stages of the human life cycle (from prenatal through late adulthood).” (emphasis supplied)
7. By the end of Grade 12, through the study of the life cycle, students will be able to describe “growth patterns and body changes throughout the life cycle (from prenatal through late adulthood)”. (emphasis supplied)
8. Although the Frameworks curriculum mentions that the human life cycle is included in the areas of study noted above, scant, if any, attention is paid to the beginning of the human life cycle, which is the period of physical development and growth of the human baby in utero. A student’s knowledge of the human life cycle is incomplete without instruction on prenatal development and growth.
9. H.662 seeks to cure this deficiency by mandating for 7th, 8th or 9th grade students, instruction in prenatal human development, consistent with accepted teachings of the National Institute of Health that includes anatomical and physiological characteristics of unborn children at increments of four (4) weeks from fertilization to full term.
10. Insufficient knowledge of prenatal development contributes to inadequate prenatal care, poor nutrition, and a failure to avoid risky behaviors, such as the consumption of drugs and alcohol during pregnancy.
11.Comprehensive education about prenatal development can help prevent complications during pregnancy, promote fetal health and development, reduce the risk of complications for the fetus and infant, and ensure that drugs a pregnant teen may take, such as acne treatments, are safe.
12. Massachusetts teens are getting pregnant at an alarming rate. Based on the most recent figures available, in 2017 there were 904 pregnancies of Massachusetts teens, who were between the ages of 17 and younger than 15. Fifty of these were in the younger-than-15 age group.
13. A fair, fact-based appreciation of the humanity of the child in utero may help to deter teenage pregnancy in the commonwealth.
14. In addition, H.662 mandates instruction on post-natal care.
15. There are numerous topics of importance for prospective parents to learn. These include matters of health: breastfeeding, postpartum depression; safety: sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), child safety seats; and medical conditions: birth defects, developmental disabilities.
16. Educating teens on these topics in the classroom will better prepare them to meet the actual expectations and responsibilities of parenting and increase the likelihood of successful outcomes for mother, father, and infant.
1 “Massachusetts Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework - October 1999” 18. Massachusetts Department of Education.
2 Id. Unit 4.4
3 Id. Unit 4.8
4 Id. Unit 4.9
5 Id. Unit 4.11
6 Id. Unit 4.12
7 Id. Unit 4.15
8 Id. Unit 4.16
9 Id. Unit 4.18
10 Id. at 20.
11 Id. Unit 1.6
12 Id. Unit 1.12
13 “What is prenatal care and why is it important?” Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NICHD, www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pregnancy/conditioninfo/prenatal-care. Accessed 18 May 2021.
15 Maddow-Zimet I and Kost K, “Pregnancies, Births and Abortions in the United States, 1973-2017: National and State Trends by Age,” New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2021, www.guttmacher.org/report/pregnancies-birth-abortions-in-united-states-1973-2017.
16 “After the Baby Arrives,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. www.cdc.gov/pregnancy/after. Accessed 24 May 2021.