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District won't revise abortion content in textbook

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PHOENIX (AP) — A Phoenix-area school district will not edit a high school honors biology textbook to remove content to comply with a state law on abortion-related instructional material.

The Gilbert Unified School District board agreed during a meeting Tuesday to find an alternative solution that does not involve redacting the textbook, the Arizona Republic reported ( ).

Superintendent Christina Kishimoto had asked the board to reverse its request, saying editing the copyrighted book could open the district to legal issues.

At issue is a chapter in the textbook, "Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections," that discusses abstinence, birth-control methods, tubal ligations and vasectomies, and drugs that can induce abortion.

The board became aware of the content in August after receiving a letter from Alliance Defending Freedom, a Scottsdale-based conservative advocacy group. Board members had said the textbook goes against a recently enacted Arizona law. According to the 2012 law, instruction material must promote childbirth and adoption over elective abortion.

Chris Kotterman, a state Department of Education official, told the board in an October email that the textbook didn't appear to violate the law.

"In general, the mere mention of a means of medically inducing abortion does not automatically signal a lack of preference for childbirth and adoption ... the responsibility lies with the teacher to provide context for the student," said Kotterman, a deputy associate superintendent.

Natalie Decker, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom, said at a board meeting in October the law applies whenever abortion is mentioned.

"The law is not limited to books in sex-education classes," Decker said. "It applies any time a mention of abortion is included in instruction."

The board will begin discussing possible solutions early next year. Kishimoto said some ideas include having teachers provide supplemental information about childbirth and adoption or inserting additional material into the books.


Information from: The Arizona Republic,

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