Last year, a school board in Arizona voted to “edit” a section of a high school honors biology textbook that included information about birth control and non-surgical abortion.
At the time of the vote, former Gilbert Public School District Board president Staci Burk told the Arizona Republic that altering the pages would bring the textbook into compliance with a state law that requires public schools to “present childbirth and adoption as preferred options to elective abortion.”
But the state found that the textbook—which offered medically accurate information about abstinence, emergency contraception, and medical abortion—did not 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,” Chris Kotterman, the Education Department deputy associate superintendent for policy development and government relations, told the Arizona Republic in an email.
The board went ahead with the vote all the same, but didn’t offer specific directions on how schools should address the pages in question. On Thursday, Suzanne Young, whose son attends high school in the district, tweeted that school’s “edit,” the result of a compromise between the board and district superintendent Christina Kishimoto:
The Gilbert Public School District did not return Fusion’s request for comment, but it appears that the sticker is the only alteration made to the book and that the pages on reproductive health are still in the text.
Coincidentally, Fusion just so happened to, on this very day in history, compile information about reproductive health and create these sticker-like images containing medically accurate information about birth control and abortion. We used information from the Guttmacher Institute, the American Congress of Gynecologists and Obstetricians, Planned Parenthood, and Bedsider, but also had it looked over by Dr. Tracey Wilkinson, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine.
These images, which we made apropos of nothing, may be of use to certain students whose schools don’t otherwise offer this information. So here they are, just in case anyone out there maybe needs medically accurate information about reproductive health and, you know, maybe wants to print this information on sticker paper and, say, stick it in a high school honors biology text book.
What is birth control and how does it work?
There are many kinds of birth control that will help you prevent pregnancy. Some types work primarily by preventing ovulation from happening, while other methods prevent the sperm from reaching the egg. There are lots of ways to figure out what kind of birth control works best for you—whether it’s long-acting reversible contraception like the IUD (intrauterine device) or the pill—but only condoms protect against sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
For more information on different kinds of birth control, you can visit Bedsider at http://bedsider.org/en/methods.
What is emergency contraception and how does it work?
If you have unprotected sex (no birth control; the method you used didn’t work; the condom broke or you missed taking the pill; or you are raped) emergency contraception can be taken afterwards to prevent pregnancy. Emergency contraception works primarily by inhibiting ovulation—the release of an egg from the ovary.
There are many different kinds of emergency contraceptives (EC). There are progestin-only pills (like Plan B One-Step, Next Choice) that are available over-the-counter and can be sold to anyone of any age without a prescription. Some pharmacies keep progestin-only pills behind the pharmacy counter, but there are no age restrictions and a pharmacist should not require an ID for you to get them. This form of EC works up to five days after unprotected sex, but it works better the sooner you take it.
There are also combination pills (like birth control pills) and a pill called ella (ulipristal acetate, a progesterone receptor modulator) that are available if you have a prescription. A benefit of ella is that it is effective for five days after unprotected sex and it works just as well no matter how many days after unprotected sex you take it.
The copper IUD can also be used as emergency contraception when implanted by a medical professional within five days of having unprotected sex. It works by preventing sperm from fertilizing the egg, and, in some cases, may prevent implantation of a fertilized egg. A benefit of an IUD is that it can provide an additional 10 years of birth control.
If you have questions about where to get emergency contraception, you can call 1-888-NOT-2-LATE, a hotline operated by Princeton University, or visit the website at http://ec.princeton.edu/index.html.
Is emergency contraception the same thing as abortion?
No. Emergency contraception works by preventing pregnancy and is not effective if you are already pregnant.
What is abortion?
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy. There are medical abortions (that use a combination of pills to end a pregnancy) and surgical abortions. Both types of abortions are incredibly safe. Abortion is also very common: half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and about four in 10 of these pregnancies end in abortion. Nearly one in three women will have an abortion by the age of 45.
If you have questions about abortion, you can call the National Abortion Federation Hotline at 1-800-772-9100 or visit the website at prochoice.org.