Does this biology textbook’s page on contraceptives seem inappropriate? According to a school district in Arizona, some of the content on the page is so inappropriate, it needs to be removed. Last week, officials on the Gilbert Public Schools Governing Board voted 3-2 to redact content from a textbook used in the district’s honors biology classes. Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale-based conservative Christian legal and advocacy group, brought the offending content to the board’s attention. After listening to a presentation from Natalie Decker, a lawyer for Alliance Defending Freedom, the board came to the decision that the content should be removed from the textbook.
The primary target of the action is a short paragraph at the end of the page that discusses "morning after pills" and the drug mifepristone. Board members argue that the decision to redact the page puts the textbook in compliance with a state law that requires public schools to “present childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.” The board came to this decision despite the fact that the state Board of Education and the Gilbert board’s lawyer said that the page isn’t a problem because it doesn’t advocate or encourage abortion, it simply provides information about “Certain drugs [that] can prevent fertilization or implantation even after intercourse has occurred.”
The book in question, Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections (Seventh Edition), is a mainstream book, used in school districts across the U.S. without a problem. Schools are able to decide how to remove the material. They can mark it out, paste something over it, or do as the Gilbert board’s acting president, Daryl Colvin, suggested – just tear out the page. Board members who voted against the action believe that ripping out a page would cause more problems and questions: “if we hand a biology book to ninth-grade students with a page missing…there’s going to be some questions about why that page is removed.”
In Election Day related news - two states, Colorado and North Dakota, defeated anti-abortion ballot measures. Voters in both states were asked to vote on personhood amendments. One state, Tennessee, approved an anti-abortion amendment to the state constitution. Amendment 1 includes language that states,“nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” The passage of this amendment paves the way for the restrictive, anti-abortion legislation in the coming years. Supporters of the amendment are already calling on lawmakers to pass TRAP laws similar to those seen in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.