Interview: Bus Driver Fired for Refusing to Drive Woman to Abortion Clinic
By Kathleen Gilbert
AUSTIN, Texas, July 20, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An Austin area bus driver has filed a lawsuit against a rural transportation system after being fired for declining to drive a woman to an abortion clinic, citing a violation against his Christian beliefs.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. district court, accuses Austin’s Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS) of having discriminated against Kyle resident Edwin Graning “on the basis of his religion.”
The native Texan told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that CARTS officials abruptly terminated him for declining to drive a woman to Planned Parenthood’s South Austin facility, after he discovered that the facility performed abortions.
Graning had asked his wife to call the facility; she heard a recording directing callers to call 911 in case of abortion complications. “I said, dear God in heaven, this woman’s gonna have an abortion,” he said.
Graning said that no protocol for orders to drive people to abortion clinics had ever been discussed. “I’m a Christian … I love the Lord and I’m not going to be a part of something like this,” said Graning, a former pastor. He pointed out that the woman quickly received a ride from another bus.
When he told his supervisor that he would not make the drive, Graning says the supervisor replied, “Then you are resigning.” He objected, but was later directed to bring his vehicle and belongings back to CARTS, and received a letter of termination on grounds of insubordination.
Graning, 63, who celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary last month, is a father of two and grandfather of three.
He is being represented by lawyers from the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
The “worst part of it all,” he said, was that he was not allowed to collect $1000 worth of leave time built up over 8 months. “I never missed a day’s work, I was never late, I never got written up or anything or ever corrected verbally or anything. I never did anything wrong,” he said. “To me, that was the height of just awful.”
The lawsuit seeks compensation for suffering and emotional distress, in addition to reinstatement, back pay, legal fees, and other relief.
“I’m not out for revenge or anything like that,” said Graning, who said he felt obligated to stand up for his beliefs.
“I pastored years ago, and I’ve done a lot of things – and normally I wouldn’t have made any issue out of this – but you know, I’m really getting tired of Christians getting kicked around,” he told LSN. “I mean, we see other things as going on in this country, and somebody somewhere along the line is just got to quit bending the knee to Baal and letting this government run over us.”
Graning said he has enjoyed an outpouring of support and prayers following the termination. “God has been good to us,” he said.
CARTS general manager David Marsh did not respond to LSN’s request for comment on the litigation as of press time.