OAKVILLE, Ontario, March 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The international WE Charity has voluntarily removed itself from an Ontario Catholic school board’s list of charities that commit to never funding abortion, contraception, and other anti-life causes.
In January, the Halton Catholic District School Board approved a “sanctity of life” motion forbidding the 33 schools in its jurisdiction from donating to any charity or non-profit that “directly or indirectly” supported “abortion, contraception, sterilization, embryonic stem cell research or euthanasia,” which conflict with Catholic doctrine.
Despite media and student protests, the board has stood behind the ban.
The new requirements led to 70 organizations’ removal from the list of charities supported by district schools. However, a number of charities with ties to pro-abortion causes remained, including WE Charity.
WE Charity has now voluntarily withdrawn itself from the list.
In a statement released on the group’s website, WE Charity reiterates its prior claim to be “not involved in any” of the controversial causes, but states that “gathering further information and context” has led the organization to withdraw anyway.
“WE Charity seeks to turn ‘students into leaders,’ and on this important issue, feels a strong solidarity with student leaders,” the statement continues, citing a petition against the policy. “We believe that self-directed service-learning is an important part of the educational journey of students.”
“The We Charity is secular, apolitical, and does not have a mandate for political advocacy,” it added.
However, the organization’s critics are interpreting the statement as an admission its previous assurance was inaccurate.
“We're delighted that the WE organization has taken itself off the list of charities that can receive donations from the Halton Catholic District School Board,” Campaign Life Coalition said in a statement on the group’s Facebook page. “WE's leadership has apparently deemed that it cannot commit to never publicly contradicting Catholic doctrine on the Sanctity of Life.”
Catholic Intelligence Blog saw the voluntary removal as an indirect admission that We Charity does, in fact, “support abortion and contraception.”
“While they say they don’t politically advocate for them, they now say that they cannot sign a statement saying they don’t publicly support abortion and contraception. This is hardly surprising given their support for UN SDG3 and their work with the Globe and Mail and Torstar on teaching materials supporting 'repro rights,'” the blogger stated.
Despite WE Charity’s insistence that it has no involvement in pro-abortion or pro-contraception causes, LifeSiteNews has documented instances of the organization promoting both through its former name Free the Children. It released “maternal health” and “child health” fact sheets for the 2010 G8 and G20 summits that called for funding abortion and contraception in the name of “family planning.” The group subsequently pulled the documents and told LifeSiteNews they had been published erroneously.
In March 2014, LifeSiteNews obtained a letter from Free the Children co-founder Marc Kielburger to the Ottawa Catholic School board admitting that one of its clinics in Kenya does “provide contraceptives to patients should they personally request them.” Kielburger claimed Kenyan law forced them to do so, but the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Health Commission said it was “not true” that Catholic facilities were “forced to stock or distribute Family planning commodities.”
Kielburger has also voiced personal support for funding the world’s largest abortion provider at taxpayers’ expense.
“As women in developing countries fight for reproductive rights, our now Conservative majority government is poised to cut funding to International Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides reproductive health services abroad,” he and his brother Craig wrote in a 2011 column. “It’s a paternalistic refusal to offer women in Africa the same rights offered to women in Canada.”
Kielburger later insisted that he assumed readers would take “reproductive rights” to mean only maternal health services, despite the fact that the International Planned Parenthood Federation had performed more than half a million abortions the year before (a number that has since doubled).
That explanation was “disingenuous,” Teresa Pierre of the Ontario Catholic Parents’ Association said at the time, because “you would not normally interpret [the phrase ‘reproductive rights’] as exclusively meaning a right to maternal health care.”
Last week, the Halton Catholic trustees voted to send the policy to the districts stakeholders, parents, and staff for review. Community feedback will be discussed at a future board meeting.