SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Utah’s governor vetoed a bill prohibiting discussion of contraception in public schools and allowing them to drop sex education entirely, but signed a bill tripling to 72 hours the waiting time for women who seek abortion.
House Bill 363, which Gov. Gary Herbert vetoed, prohibits “instruction or the advocacy of the intricacies of intercourse, sexual stimulation, or erotic behavior; homosexuality; contraceptive methods or devices; or sexual activity outside of marriage.”
The Legislature approved it on March 6, two days before it went into recess.
Protestors decried the bill in large numbers, taking to that Capitol steps overlooking downtown Salt Lake City, and Herbert, a Republican, apparently heard them, and vetoed the bill Friday.
“As governor, as a parent, and as a grandparent of children in Utah’s public schools, I consider it important that the topic of human sexuality instruction be approached with utmost care and sensitivity,” Herbert said in a statement. “This topic is best taught in the home, and our public schools should not and cannot replace instruction by parents. It is imperative that public school instruction never supplant, but rather support and supplement, lessons learned in the home.
“Curriculum must stress the importance of abstinence as the only sure method to avoid the negative effects of premarital sexual activity. The state must not interfere with a parent’s right and obligation to determine if and how their children will be instructed.”
But Herbert added: “After careful review of existing law and following extensive discussions with stakeholders on both sides of the issue, I am convinced the existing statutory framework respects these two principles, while HB 363 simply goes too far by constricting parental options.”
Under Utah law, parents must opt in, in writing, for their children to attend any class discussing human sexuality.
On Tuesday, Herbert, signed House Bill 461, which triples the waiting period for a woman seeking an abortion, from 24 to 72 hours. The state Senate passed the bill 22-6 on March 8, after a 59-11 vote in the state House.
HB 461 is to take effect on May 7.