Parent wants The Handmaid’s Tale pulled from school after abortion debate, senator says

Complaint prompts Upstate district to review high school library books
Sen. Sandy Senn said parent wants The Handmaid's Tale pulled from school after she used it in argument during abortion ban filibuster.
Published: May. 4, 2023 at 11:44 AM EDT|Updated: May. 4, 2023 at 11:46 AM EDT
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ANDERSON, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A South Carolina senator said an Upstate parent asked for a book used in her argument against a statewide abortion ban to be pulled from school library shelves.

Last week Sen. Sandy Senn, a Republican from Charleston, led a filibuster for hours along with four other female senators to block a final vote on a bill to outlaw abortion from conception. The group opposing the ban included Republican, Democratic and Independent lawmakers.

Senn called the bill, which would enact one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country, “crazily oppressive.” During the filibuster, she compared the legislation to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

On Wednesday, Senn spoke on the Senate floor after she learned a parent in Anderson raised concerns to officials in District One about several books in a high school library they believe to contain inappropriate material, including The Handmaid’s Tale.

A spokesperson for Anderson District One released the following statement on the matter:

“We have extremists who are trying to take away a book,” Senn said. “I read it for the first time right after law school. It’s been around forever. So what are you going to do, stop Netflix?”

The 1985 Arthur C. Clarke award-winning novel has been adapted for the stage, film and now an Emmy award-winning series on Hulu.

Complaints about The Handmaid’s Tale, which has been required reading in many schools, aren’t new. For decades the book about women being controlled by the state and forced to bear children has been challenged by parents across the country due to profanity, sexual content, and its perspective on religion. The American Library Association (ALA) ranked it in their list of the top 100 most banned and challenged books from 2000 to 2019.

What is new, is the prevalence of requests to ban library books. Last year the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom recorded 1,269 demands to censor library books and resources - the highest number they’ve recorded since they started tracking book ban attempts more than 20 years ago, and nearly double the number of censorship attempts in 2021.

“When somebody tells us we can’t do something, what do we want to do? We want to go do it,” Senn said. “We’re going down the wrong path with respect to abortion. I think we’re going down the wrong path with respect to trying to censor things.”