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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Fact Checking McCain Ad Saying Obama Voted For Sex-Ed For Kindergartners

Byron York from the National Review has done a good job of going through the bill that the John McCain campaign used in their "Education" video ad regarding Barack Obama's support of Senate Bill 99 which would allow kindergartners to be taught sexual education.

Video ad below:

The ad above says Barack Obama voted for a bill that would teach sex education to kindergartners and the Obama campaign denied the assertion and accused the McCain campaign of lies and smears. Pulling up the text of the bill gives the answers.
Criticisms from the Obama campaign came out immediately after the McCain ad was released, with the Obama campaign calling it "shameful and downright perverse," and Obama spokesman Bill Burton saying the bill Obama supported was "written to protect young children from sexual predators."

McCain spokesperson Tucker Bound's responded by stating "the Obama campaign did not and cannot dispute a shred of the content in the ad.”

The text of the ad in question:

Education Week says Obama hasn't made a significant mark on Education.
That he's elusive on accountability.
A staunch defender of the existing public school monopoly.
Obama's one accomplishment?
Legislation to teach comprehensive sex education to kindergartners.
Learning about sex before learning to read?
Barack Obama, wrong on education.
Wrong for your family.

The media jumped in with some saying McCain distorted the facts of the bill, the left accused the McCain campaign of lies and smears and the Obama campaign created an ad called honor in response to the McCain ad.

All the ink dedicated to one specific ad, about a bill that Obama did not sponsor but did support, and which did not get passed into law, aroused curiosity across the Web, which was easily satisfied by looking into the text of Senate Bill 99 and the press release that proceeded the vote on the three part package which includes Senate Bill 99.

The opening paragraph of the release states:

An unprecedented package of legislation aimed at preventing unintended pregnancies, reducing the need for abortion and reducing the spread of sexually transmitted infections will be unveiled today at a Springfield press conference. Composed of three separate bills, the legislation will cover: 1) medically accurate sex education; 2) funding for family planning services for women in need; 3) contraceptive equity in health insurance.

The Sponsor of the original bill, Senator Carol Ronen, was quoted in the release as saying, "It teaches students about the advantages of abstinence, while also giving them the realistic information they need about the prevention of an unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.”


Sec. 27-9.1. Sex Education. (A)

Each class or course in comprehensive sex education offered in any of grades K through 12 shall include instruction on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections, including the prevention, transmission and spread of HIV.

Section one supports the McCain ad assertions that sexual education is the specific purpose of Senate Bill 99.

Part 2.2.1 of Section One, also offers Barack Obama some protection about his voting for Senate Bill 99 where it states:

(2) All (1) course material and instruction shall be age and developmentally appropriate.

Immediately following that line in the bill comes the purpose for the bill:

Course material and instruction shall include a discussion of sexual abstinence as a method to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Course material and instruction shall present the latest medically factual information regarding both the possible side effects and health benefits of all forms of contraception, including the success and failure rates for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Course material and instruction shall include a discussion of the possible consequences of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Then we come to the portion of the bill that Obama spokesman, Bill Burton, says the bill was intended for, which in his words were "written to protect young children from sexual predators."

"Course material and instruction shall teach pupils to not make unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances and how to say no to unwanted sexual advances and shall include information about verbal, physical, and visual sexual harassment, including without limitation nonconsensual sexual advances, nonconsensual physical sexual contact, and rape by an acquaintance. The course material and instruction shall contain methods of preventing sexual assault by an acquaintance, including exercising good judgment and avoiding behavior that impairs one’s judgment. The course material and instruction shall emphasize personal accountability and respect for others and shall also encourage youth to resist negative peer pressure. The course material and instruction shall inform pupils of the potential legal consequences of sexual assault by an acquaintance. Specifically, pupils shall be advised that it is unlawful to touch an intimate part of another person as specified in the Criminal Code of 1961."

There is more to the actual bill, but these portions show that both candidates are specifying the portions of the bill that they wish to focus on and both candidates ignored the portions of the bill that their opponents wish to focus on.

The McCain campaign did not add the unwanted touching portion of the bill to their video ad and the Obama campaign did not acknowledge the focus of the bill as stated in the news release and in the very first paragraph of Senate Bill 99.

Neither candidate lied, neither candidate distorted, and yet their has been much ink dedicated to this topic, when a simple reading of the bill itself could have answered all the questions.

The McCain ad is factually correct and the Obama campaigning trying to deny it so vehemently, simply gave people a reason to look into the actual bill itself instead of just chalking the ad up to politics.

The Obama campaign should have left this alone because now people will be shown the bill, which does, indeed, allow for children as young as 6 to be taught sexual educations and that while it did not become law, Barack Obama did, in fact, support the bill.

Others discussing this, via memeorandum:, The Corner, Althouse, Eduwonk, QandO,, Weekly Standard, The Other McCain and Patterico's Pontifications