Sex ed classes in some states may soon watch a fetal development video from an anti-abortion group

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DES MOINES, Iowa — Baby Olivia isn’t a real baby. It’s an animated fetus that develops over the course of a three-minute video that has become a new front in state-level abortion politics.

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.

The 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.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a professional organization with over 60,000 members, said in an email that the video is anti-abortion misinformation “designed to manipulate the emotions of viewers.”

Here’s a primer on the video and the debate it has sparked:

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.

“Though she has yet to greet the outside world, she has already completed an amazing journey,” the narrator says.

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

Founder Lila Rose said the video was designed to be informative, lifelike and appropriate for anyone, and made in consultation with doctors. Of the six, two are trained OB-GYNs; the others are trained in anatomy, biochemistry, pediatric medicine and neuroscience.

The organization spent nearly $5 million in 2022 to create and distribute content widely, according to filing reports. Those reports also show Live Action more than quadrupled its cash from contributions and grants in just four years, totaling $14 million in 2022.

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 shows an egg being fertilized and implanted, then walks through embryonic and fetal developments over the course of a pregnancy.

It calls out general markers in what Rose said is an…

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