LifeSiteNews staff

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School Board lawyer bullies faithful Catholic trustees on equity policy stance

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff

TORONTO, May 20, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - About 150 Catholic parents and ratepayers opposed to the draft Equity & Inclusion (EIE) policy of the Toronto Catholic School Board, packed the boardroom where trustees were set to vote on the controversial policy last night.  Several parents and trustees expressed outrage upon witnessing the vote being “sabotaged” by a board staff lawyer at the urging of administration.

Prior to the meeting, parents delivered a petition signed by 2,418 Toronto Catholic stakeholders. Petition signers demanded that trustees vote against the draft EIE policy, or amend it with explicit language to protect against a gay agenda that could undermine Catholic doctrine on sexual morality.

At the beginning of the meeting, seven delegations of parents and Catholic stakeholders persuasively laid out the reasons why the draft policy would invite dissenters to undermine Catholic doctrine on homosexuality, due to the vague wording of the policy document.

Following the presentations by parents, Trustee Angela Kennedy read out an amendment to protect Catholic moral teaching and to explicitly affirm that the Catholic Board’s denominational rights “take precedence over human rights protections”. 

Director, Anne Perron, then invited board staff lawyer, Eric Roher, to address trustees. Roher claimed “groups” could sue the trustees and that Dalton McGuinty’s government could punish them collectively if the amendments were added.

“The other issue that you should consider is potential legal liability to the extent that groups could take action against the board saying that we are exposing, or are refusing to ensure that our children and students are treated in an equitable and inclusive manner”, said Roher.

Parents were stunned by the intimidation tactics of the lawyer. Trustee John Del Grande echoed the insult felt by parents when he shot back: “The scare tactics, I don’t think are appropriate”.

Trustee Maria Rizzo also rebuked the legal threats from Roher despite her support of the controversial draft policy. “I don’t agree with Mr. Roher, I do believe that it’s within our right to make any amendments and vote on those amendments, especially as it refers to policy,” she said.

The majority of trustees expressed they did not wish to vote on the amendments for fear of liability.

Trustee Kennedy, expressed her frustration with the attempt to remove the discussion from the public eye. “There seems to be a lack of transparency,” she said. “I don’t agree with the fact that we were asked to put our amendments in a non-public meeting. We’re a public board. This is a democracy. We’re representing the people. We’ve got to tell everybody including our trustee colleagues, including our staff and our lawyers, exactly what we want to be considering here. …  But to do things undercover, on the telephone, in a non-public meeting, I think is wrong…”

The Chair, Ann Andrachuk, cut Kennedy off, and argued sharply that nothing was being done “under cover” and claimed that making decisions about the amendments outside the board meeting was entirely appropriate.

A spirited rebuttal from Trustee Kennedy caused the parent audience to erupt with applause: “I think that this is the proper way to do it,… it’s the proper place, right here, to put forward our amendments. I don’t agree with deferral. I don’t agree with passing the policy [or] with deferring our amendments”

In spite of the efforts of Trustees Del Grand and Kennedy, the Board passed the un-amended draft policy 7 to 4.  Trustees Patrizia Bottoni and Frank D’Amico also voted no.  Absent from the vote was Trustee Barb Poplawsi who voted in favour of Del Grande’s amendments at a prior board meeting. Trustee Enverga seemed supportive of the pro-Catholic amendments, but also voted to defer consideration of the amendments until comment can be given by the Director’s legal counsel.

A motion was passed to bring the amendments back again for a separate vote on June 16, after legal counsel review.

One parent who asked that his name not be published, told LifeSiteNews that after watching the intimidation tactics of Eric Roher, he does not trust the advice that will be given to trustees by internal legal counsel. “It looked to me that this guy was determined to push the government agenda, regardless of what rights trustees possess”.

One of the speakers at the beginning of the meeting was former homosexual activist Alan Yoshioka. He is the spokesman for Reclaim the Rainbow - Toronto, a policy group of Toronto Catholics who have experience of same-sex attraction, either in themselves or among their loved ones, and who are loyal to the Catholic Magisterium.

“We are disappointed that the board saw fit to pass a policy that leaves room for interpretations that would undermine schools’ capacity to present, and indeed to embody, the fullness of the Church’s teaching,” said Yoshioka. “Even so, we hope that next month the board will use its authority to pass amendments that would limit opportunities for the community’s abhorrence of bullying to be exploited by parties who, for whatever reason, would deprive students of the life-giving teaching of the Church on chastity and the nature of human sexuality.”


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African denounces Western elites pushing population control in his country

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By Ben Johnson

An op-ed in one of the leading publications in Uganda has denounced the promotion of IUD use and other long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in the nation as a colonialist form of population control.

An article published in New Vision, which bills itself as “Uganda's leading daily,” and which was posted online after being translated into broken English, contradicts the frequent claim that there is a desperate cry from Africans and brown people generally to provide the “unmet need” for contraception in the Third World.

Programs to convince African women to use the IUD or other forms of contraception “are projects of multibillion international agencies distributing them under the guise of helping the poor countries to control birth rates,” Stephen Wabomba wrote.

The use of the IUD leads to an increase in “the spread of STIs/HIV/AIDS, infections or increased rates of Pelvic Infection Diseases (PID),” and other maladies, he said. The IUD, which is inserted into the uterus and may work for years at a time, offers no protection against sexually transmitted diseases and often does not prevent fertilization.

Western governments and NGOs are very much “aware of the side effect[s] but still force them on us through sensational marketing strategies by claiming that there is unmet need” for contraception “in Uganda,” he wrote.

He instead suggested the use of Natural Family Planning methods as the “best alternative” for married couples, as well as increased “funding of chastity and abstinence education in Uganda.”

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He called on every citizen of Uganda “to stand up and be counted as a lover of life” and become a “protector of the voiceless and defenseless unborn children being aborted every day.”

Wabomba is heeding his own advice by acting as director of the Pregnancy Help Center in Jinja, the second largest city in Uganda. The town of 87,000 is perched on the shores of Lake Victoria.


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UN tells Chile and Peru to legalize abortion

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By Guilherme Ferreira Araújo

On July 7 and 8, the United Nations Human Rights Commission (UNHCR) discussed Chile’s abortion laws and issued a report asking for liberalization of those laws.

According to the report, Chile “should establish exceptions to the general prohibition of abortion, contemplating therapeutic abortion and in those cases in which the pregnancy is a consequence of a rape or incest.”

Chile is one of the few countries that prohibits abortion in all cases.  So far, the country has managed to stand against internal and external pressure to legalize abortion.

But during her campaign, President Michele Bachelet promised to make the legalization of abortion a priority.  Indeed, last May she stated that her intention was to reopen the debate so that the government could approve therapeutic abortion before the end of this year.  The U.N. report also said that Chile “should make sure that reproductive health services are accessible to all women and adolescents."

One of the reasons the UN is using to pressure Chile’s government to change their abortion laws is the high number of clandestine abortions allegedly taking place in Chile. The UNHRC points to “official data” showing 150,000 annual clandestine abortions. However, not only is it impossible to corroborate that figure, but other sources show that this number could be exaggerated by a factor of 10.  According to an article published in the Chilean news publication, Chile B, the annual number of clandestine abortions in Chile may vary between 8,270 and 20,675.

Inflating the number of illegal abortions and maternal mortality is a common tactic of the pro-abortion movement’s effort to legalize the deadly practice. Dr. Bernard Nathanson, founder of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), famously admitted the tactic after becoming pro-life.

“We claimed that between five and ten thousand women a year died of botched abortions,” he said. "The actual figure was closer to 200 to 300 and we also claimed that there were a million illegal abortions a year in the United States and the actual figure was close to 200,000. So, we were guilty of massive deception."

Chile has also been used as a prime example that legalized abortion does not reduce maternal mortality.

A study published in 2012 by Plos One Institute found that since 1989 when Chile banned abortion, there has been an annual decrease in maternal death. That study, and others compiled and published by the Chilean MELISA Institute strongly challenge the myth that abortion is safe or even necessary to increase maternal health.

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Notwithstanding the empirical data, the United Nations is also hard at work to pressure Chile’s neighbor to the North, Peru, to liberalize its own abortion laws.  In the case of Peru it is the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) that has issued the report, not the UNHRC.  CEDAW representatives examined Peru’s case on July 1 and suggested that Peru should legalize abortion in case of rape and severe abnormalities of the unborn child.

The organism suggested that the government eliminate all laws that punish women who abort and asked that Peru “urgently” adopt a law to fight violence against women, a notion often used as a euphemism for legalizing abortion.  

The CEDAW commission presented the conclusions of the report on July 22 and put special emphasis on the abortion issue. This happens despite the strong opposition to abortion in Peru. A recent survey showed that 79 percent of Peruvians support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion.

The CEDAW pressure on Peru is not new. In 2011, after the UN sanctioned Peru for denying an abortion to a teenager, Carlos Polo, Director of the Population Research Institute’s Latin American office, stated that the UN organism doesn’t have the right to force Peru to approve abortion.


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People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. Youtube screenshot
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I helped so many women abort their babies. Now how do I live with that?

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By Abby Johnson
Abby Johnson business card Planned Parenthood

I have many memories of my time with Planned Parenthood. I spent eight years of my life there. Some memories are good, some are not. But they are contained in my mind. It’s easy to forget them. I have forgotten so much about my time there in just four and a half short years. 

I found my old business card the other day. That is a tangible memory for me. It made me think of the day that I heard I had been promoted to direct the clinic. I was so happy…hugging and jumping up and down with my supervisor. She was so proud of me.

I thought about the day I moved everything into my new, big office. I put pro-choice stickers all over my file cabinet. I called my parents to share the news. They were, of course, proud of me, but hated my work. I can’t imagine how conflicted they were in their minds and hearts. Human resources sent me my new paperwork. There was my new title, my new and amazing salary. 

A few days later, my new business cards came. I remember putting them in my new business card holder on my desk. I filled up the business card holder that I kept in my purse. I had already become used to hearing myself say my new title.

I was proud of myself. I was proud of the hard work I had put in to earn that new title. I worked so many hours, sacrificed so much time from my family. But I knew it would be worth it. And now I had the job title to prove it.

I remember proudly passing out my new business cards to anyone that would take one. Being pro-choice was not just a movement to me; it was a lifestyle. I wholeheartedly embraced that lifestyle and loved being a part of it. 

These tangible reminders that I occasionally find are sometimes hard to work through. I remember receiving the records from my medication abortion. That tangible reminder of my past was difficult to manage. I look at my “Employee of the Year” award that I received from Planned Parenthood and think back to the night I received it. I ended up putting that old award on my desk as a reminder of where I came from and how much my life has changed. Seeing that plaque no longer brings back those tangible memories. 

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One of the reasons I was so taken aback when finding my old business card was not just because it was a reminder of how proud I had been to run an abortion clinic…something I find deplorable now. It was because of the things I took part in while I had that big title.

The memories of handing women small monetary checks in order to pay for their silence after we had left them with a serious infection after their abortion. The memories of watching women bleed out on our abortion table and being instructed not to call the ambulance because we didn’t want to let the pro-lifers know that we had a medical emergency. The memories I have of “joking” about the babies that died in our facility by abortion. The memories I have of training our abortion facility employees on the “normalcy” of abortion and how to convince women that abortion is the best choice for them.

Part of being a former abortion clinic worker is learning how to deal with your past sin. It may be the lady who came to your clinic for an abortion that you bump into at the store. It could be standing in front of your former abortion facility and remembering all of the damage your words and actions did to so many women. It could be finding that old business card that reminds you of the pride you felt when you became the director of an abortion facility. 

People ask me all the time, “How do you live with your past?” My answer is silly, but it is a true story. 

One day I was watching the kid’s movie “Kung Fu Panda” with my daughter. In the film there is a wise, old tortoise named Oogway. He is talking to one of his students who is frustrated with his current situation. Oogway asks his student, “Do you know why today is called the present? Because it is a gift.”

That little line by an animated tortoise hit me like a ton of bricks. Today is a gift. There is absolutely nothing we can do with our past. And there is very little we can do to control our future. We live NOW. We serve NOW. We choose to move on from our past NOW. 

I don’t know what your past sins are. And I don’t know how frequently you are reminded of them. But as someone who has to face their past sins on pretty much a daily basis, I can tell you that you can be free from their burden. Being reminded of your past doesn’t mean that you have to live with constant grief. It simply means that you have been given the opportunity to transform your past into something positive…maybe you can help others make different choices than you did, maybe you can help others heal from the same struggles that you lived through. I don’t know what you are being called to do, but as the saying goes, “God can turn our mess into a message.” 

Carrying around past burdens doesn’t help us in any way. Know that you can be forgiven. Accept that forgiveness. Use your life to help others. The present is indeed a gift.

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