After both the ACLU and the Alliance Defending Freedom weighed in, a school board in Arizona has decided in favor of censoring biology textbooks that mention abortion. The decision came with a vote after a meeting open to the public, which several senators also attended, and is based in part on a strict interpretation of a state law passed two years ago.

The textbook in question is Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections (7th Edition), and it includes a chapter that discusses numerous pregnancy prevention methods, including surgical methods, abstinence, and birth control. The chapter also discusses abortion.

The law, according to AZ Central, says that schools must “present childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.” The textbook does not mention adoption.

The Alliance Defending Freedom maintains that the book must be altered to comply with the law, with attorney Natalie Decker speaking to say that the law applies any time that abortion is mentioned in curriculum. She suggested that the passage could be redacted, or additional information could be pasted in.

The ACLU disagrees. They sent the board a letter earlier this month, saying that the law refers to sex education courses, and does not apply in this case. Further, the ACLU said that removing the information because some find it objectionable would violate the students’ First Amendment rights.

The law in question states:

A. In view of the state’s strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion, no school district or charter school in this state may endorse or provide financial or instructional program support to any program that does not present childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.
B. In view of the state’s strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion, no school district or charter school in this state may allow any presentation during instructional time or furnish any materials to pupils as part of any instruction that does not give preference, encouragement and support to childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion

In a 3-2 decision, the board voted to censor the book, but did not make a determination on how it would be done, though one board member suggested that the easiest way would be to completely remove the page mentioning abortion.


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