A mother in Knox County, Tennessee, claims that The New York Times bestseller "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is "pornographic," and is trying to get it removed from her son's school and other schools (video below).
The 2010 book is about how doctors removed cells from Lacks, a black woman, in 1951 when she was hospitalized with cervical cancer. The cells were taken from her body without her knowledge and were the basis of modern cancer research, leading to major discoveries.
However, Jackie Sims objects to her 15-year-old son and all other students reading the true story, which was on a school summer reading list.
"I consider the book pornographic, Sims told WBIR. "There's so many ways to say things without being that graphic in nature, and that's the problem I have with this book."
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Sims' son was given an alternate choice to read, but the offended mom wants the "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" banned from all Knox County schools.
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" author Rebecca Skloot recently wrote on her Facebook page:
"I choose to focus on those stories, and I hope the students of Knoxville will be able to continue to learn about Henrietta and the important lessons her story can teach them. Because my book is many things: It's a story of race and medicine, bioethics, science illiteracy, the importance of education and equality and science and so much more. But it is not anything resembling pornography."
"...Interestingly, not once in the [WBIR] story does the reporter quote the supposed 'graphic' 'pornographic' content the parent is objecting to."
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"So I'll tell you what it is: Henrietta's husband was unfaithful, and he brought home at least one sexually transmitted disease. Also: Using her finger, Henrietta found a tumor (caused by a sexually transmitted disease) on her cervix, just as women find lumps in their breasts with their fingers. So is a breast self-exam pornography too? #sigh," added Skloot.
Skloot told WBIR that she has received "wonderful messages from many students" at the school where Sims' child attends.