The Education Minister of Ontario, Canada — a professing Catholic who sends her children to Catholic schools — declared October 10 that the province’s publicly funded Catholic schools may not teach students that abortion is wrong because such teaching amounts to “misogyny,” which is prohibited in schools under a controversial anti-bullying law.
“Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take,” Laurel Broten said during a press conference.
“Bill 13,” she asserted, “is about tackling misogyny.”
Passed in June, Bill 13 requires schools to provide “a positive school climate that is inclusive and accepting, regardless of race, ancestry, place of origin, color, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.” The law specifically mandates that schools — Catholic schools included — establish “gay-straight alliance” organizations. Now, it seems, it will also be used to infringe even further on religious freedom by prohibiting Catholic schools from teaching that abortion is sinful.
Broten, in her capacity as minister responsible for women’s issues, had called the press conference “to express [her] disappointment” with a press conference held earlier in the day by three provincial legislators in which they argued that Ontario taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortions. Those men had the audacity, Broten averred, “to reopen the debate in Ontario about a woman’s right to choose” — “a debate … that has been ended for quite some time.” Their press conference, she added, “was frankly disheartening.” (Note, by the way, that the legislators were not even talking about banning abortion itself, just public funding of it.)
Asked by a member of the press if it was “appropriate” for Catholic schools to “let kids out of school to go to anti-abortion rallies,” Broten said that “in Ontario we support Catholic education, support the teaching of love and tolerance in our Catholic schools and at the same time support a woman’s right to choose.”
In other words, the government of Ontario — led by pro-choice Premier Dalton McGuinty, who is also a Catholic — supports Catholic education only up to the point where it conflicts with left-wing orthodoxy.
“I am one that supports Catholic education and has been adamantly in support of women’s right to choose for many years and I do not see a conflict in those,” Broten continued.
UPDATE: Cardinal Thomas Collins commented on this situation yesterday:
In a rebuke to comments made by Education Minister Laurel Broten, Cardinal Thomas Collins told a packed audience that the identity of Catholic schools must be respected and the mission of Catholic schools includes engaging in pro-life activities.
Collins made his comments to 1,700 people at the annual Cardinal’s Dinner on Thursday night a day after Broten suggested that under the province’s new anti-bullying legislation Catholic schools should not be teaching that abortion is wrong because “Bill-13 is about tackling misogyny.”
“Taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be considered one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take,” she said at a press conference. “I don’t think there is a conflict between choosing Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman’s right to choose.”
Collins did not specifically mention Broten, and neither she nor Premier Dalton McGuinty attended the dinner at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre. The Ontario government was represented by Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Charles Sousa. He heard the cardinal defend the rights of Catholic education in no uncertain terms.
Collins said the Catholic identity of Catholic schools is “recognized and protected” by section 93 of the constitution and by section 1 of the Education Act.
“Both the constitution and the Education Act make it clear that the Catholic identity of the school must be respected,” he said.