Lawmakers advance bill mandating that public school eighth graders be taught life begins at conception

By Matthew Young, RealWV

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Senate Education Committee, on Tuesday, advanced their substitute for SB 468, also known as the “Baby Olivia Act.”

Introduced by Sen. Patricia Rucker, R-Jefferson, the “Baby Olivia Act” seeks to require public school students to submit to the viewing of a three minute animated video, produced by an anti-abortion lobbyist group. 

As explained by Committee Counsel Amy Osgood, “The proposed committee substitute requires the State Board of Education to provide courses to include human growth and development related to pregnancy and human development inside the womb. The bill creates the ‘Baby Olivia Act,’ which applies to each public school and public charter school.”

Counsel Amy Osgood explains SB 468 to the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday.

Osgood further explained that, beginning with the 2024/2025 school year, students in eighth grade would be required to watch an animated video called “Meet Baby Olivia,” which simulates an unborn baby’s existence inside the womb. Osgood added that the video would be a minimum of three-minutes in length, and depict the “development of the brain, heart, sex organs, and other vital organs in early fetal development.”

Developed and produced by anti-abortion lobbyist and activist organization Live Action, the video explicitly refers to egg-fertilization as “the moment that life begins,” further dramatizing the occurrence with the addition of a flashing white light. The video is available for viewing on Live Action’s YouTube channel, as well as Live Action’s website

In addition to eighth graders being required to watch the video, Osgood noted, tenth graders would also be required to re-watch the video as a “refresher.” The introduced version of the bill mandated that the video be shown to third graders. That mandate was changed to students in the eighth and tenth grades in the committee substitute. The committee substitute also removed the ability of the Attorney General to bring suit against any school personnel in violation of the terms of the bill. 

If SB 468 becomes law, public school students in 8th grade will be required to watch this video in a mandatory health class.

After Committee Chair Amy Grady, R-Mason, was unable to have the video screened for those in attendance, Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, asked Osgood, “What is Live Action?”

“Live Action is a group that has gained attention in various states around the United States regarding – they go into detail as far as the fertilization process,” Osgood said. “Each step of growth while the baby is in the womb. And just to, I guess, inform people of what processes that happen during the different stages of pregnancy.”

When Trump asked if Live Action was a company, Osgood replied, “I’m not really sure. I want to say it’s like a nonprofit organization, not necessarily a company.”

“This appears to be dictating the provider of the curriculum for the subject,” Trump said. “Do you agree with that? Maybe there are other examples that I’m not aware of where code says school districts have to use this product, made by this provider.”

When Osgood was unable to answer, Grady interjected, saying, “We have CPR instruction, and it says it must be provided by the American Heart Association, or the American Red Cross. That’s very similar.”

Sen. Charles Clements, R-Wetzel, posed a question to both Osgood and Grady.

“Has the Supreme Court ever ruled on when life begins?”

After his question went unanswered, Clements said, “I only bring that up because I noticed at the beginning of the video it says as soon as it entered the womb or the uterus, life begins.”

“I just wonder if there’s going to be a challenge to this somewhere down the line,” Clements added. 

Grady tried again to have the video screened in the committee room, this time with more success. 

After watching the video, Sen. Michael Azinger, R-Wood, said, “It’s a scientific fact that at the second of conception, there’s a flash of light – always, every time.”

The “Baby Olivia Act” was passed unanimously by the committee, and will now be referred to the full Senate for further consideration. RealWV will provide updates as to the status of the bill as additional information is made available.

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