TORONTO, Oct. 11, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An official transcript sent to LifeSiteNews by the Ontario government confirms that Dalton McGuinty’s Education Minister told media on Wednesday that Catholic schools should not be teaching that abortion is wrong because it is a violation of the government’s newly-enacted anti-bullying bill.
In comments largely ignored or buried by Canada’s mainstream media, Minister Laurel Broten told a press conference at Queen’s Park that Catholic teaching on abortion is “misogyny.”
“We do not allow and we’re very clear with the passage of Bill 13 that Catholic teachings cannot be taught in our schools that violates human rights and which brings a lack of acceptance to participation in schools,” she said when asked if it’s okay for the schools to encourage pro-life rallies.
Asked if Premier McGuinty supports the Minister’s stance, his office directed LifeSiteNews to Broten’s office.
Find the full transcript here.
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Since LifeSiteNews first published the shocking comments Wednesday, they have ignited a firestorm of criticism from pro-life and faith leaders in both Canada and the U.S. and across denominational lines.
Dr. Margaret Somerville, the founding director of McGill University’s Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law, called it an “appalling” violation of religious freedom. “If Bill 13 were interpreted in the way the Minister suggests, in my opinion, it would be unconstitutional as offending freedom of religion, freedom of conscience and free speech, as well as contrary to parents’ obligations and rights with respect to their children, and so on,” she told LifeSiteNews.
Faye Sonier, legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, said the claim that Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life is a form of bullying “would leave someone with even a rudimentary understanding of law reeling.”
Steve Phelan, communications director for the Virginia-based Human Life International, called it “a case of radical, secular leftists trying to take away the most basic rights of those with whom they disagree.”
William Saunders, Senior Vice-President of Legal Affairs for Americans United for Life, said the comments show the “totalitarian instincts” of pro-abortion politicians, but also stressed that “it can’t be misogynistic to oppose something that is so harmful to women, as many recent studies show.”
“That’s the dirty secret about abortion - how harmful it is to women; and so to suggest it’s misogynist is to completely miss the point,” he explained.
In her press conference, Minister Broten went beyond saying that Catholic schools cannot teach their pro-life beliefs, insinuating that they must actually adopt a “pro-choice” position. “We must ensure that women, young girls in our schools, especially highlighted during the week of the first ever Day of the Girl tomorrow, that young girls can make the choices that they make. This is not about being pro-abortion, it is about being pro-choice,” she stated.
A reporter pointed out that in the debates around Bill 13 there was no mention of abortion, and so asked why she had brought up the controversial bill.
“Bill 13 has in it a clear indication of ensuring that our schools are safe, accepting places for all our students,” she explained. “That includes of LGBTQ students. That includes young girls in our school. Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny, taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take.”
“There are many, many families that send their children to Catholic school and choose that education for their children that also support a woman’s right to choose,” she continued. “And as I said, I don’t think that there is a contrast or a conflict between choosing a Catholic education for your children and supporting a woman’s right to choose.”
Joanne McGarry, executive director of the Catholic Civil Rights League, said the government’s stance is an “attack on the constitutionally-guaranteed right of Catholic schools to teach the Catholic faith, and an attack on religious freedom.”
She said the justification of the stance by claiming pro-life beliefs are ‘misogynistic’ is interesting given the recent concerns over sex-selective abortion. “Isn’t it misogyny when unborn children are aborted because they’re female?” she asked.
Sonier said that if the Minister is right that opposition to abortion is misogynistic, then Canada must be teeming with women-haters.
“A 2012 Ipsos Reid poll found that 60% of Canadians support the introduction of legislation that would limit abortion access,” she said. “One could take it to mean that most Canadians believe that abortion on demand, at any point during pregnancy and for any reason, isn’t right. Are a majority of Canadians therefore misogynistic?”
“Given that she is Minister Responsible of Women’s Issues, it should be of serious concern that she’s unaware that there’s no right to abortion in Canada,” Sonier added. “In R. v. Morgentaler, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously said that Parliament has the jurisdiction to pass abortion legislation. It would serve the Minister well to familiarize herself with this decision.”
“It is troubling that Ms. Broten is so confident with such openly fascistic language as to be unconcerned that by her reasoning, any group could for any reason be silenced at the will of the party in power,” said Phelan. “She actually seems to think that when a woman defends the unborn, this woman is actually guilty of hatred of women.”
Somerville said the Minister’s comments are a sign of abortion advocates’ desperation, which she sees as hopeful.
“The fact that they can’t discuss abortion shows how frightened they are that they cannot support their case in an open public square and get others to support it,” she said. “And now, if we take the Minister’s comments as an indicator, that fear seems to have increased: They don’t want to let anyone even disagree with them, indeed, they want to go further and have everyone ‘preach what they preach’ about abortion. So much for their stance of adopting so-called “progressive” values which is supposed to include their ideology of tolerance for diversity and manifest this in practice.”
Tim Hudak, Opposition Leader
19 Duncan Street
Toronto, ON M5H 3H1
Lisa MacLeod, Education Critic
Tel: 416-325-6351 Fax 416-325-6364
Address: Room 451, Main Legislative Building, Queen’s Park
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1A8
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
President of Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto (ON) M4T 1W2
Tel: (416) 934-3400 #609
Fax: (416) 934-3452