Officials with a Red Deer high school are under fire this week for allowing a presentation to students from Red Deer & Area Pro-Life who compared abortion to the Holocaust.
Last month during a class at École Secondaire Notre Dame High School, Red Deer & Area Pro-Life presented to Grade 10 students. Red Deer Catholic School officials have said the intended outcome of this presentation was to teach students that, “Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
A student reportedly recorded the presentation with their phone and sent it to Alberta Education.
“It has come to our attention that the presentation by Red Deer & Area Pro-Life contained controversial resources that did not achieve the intended teaching outcome in a suitable manner,” a release from the Red Deer Catholic School Division stated.
Students were shown a video, entitled Abort 73: The Case Against Abortion, Personhood, that compared abortion to the Holocaust.
Joel Soodsma, board member with Red Deer & Area Pro-Life said they have received criticism over the presentation.
“We got quite a bit of criticism from the minister of education and I think what it was called was hateful propaganda. What we did in that video is compared the people in the past who have also been denied human rights – one of the examples of that was the Holocaust – different people groups in the 1930s and 40s who were not given human rights,” he said. “I can understand why they thought it was disturbing. When you compare it to the Holocaust, certainly those pictures are very disturbing. When you compare the pictures of abortion, they are very disturbing as well. We didn’t show any pictures of abortion, we just showed developing babies. It would only make sense that any normal person would certainly find that very disturbing, which is what abortion is.
“The whole topic of abortion is quite a touchy subject.”
Soodsma said as a group, they frequently give presentations to schools and school officials do have the opportunity to review the material beforehand. “We are there to educate to get the word out that babies are people.”
In a release sent to the media, officials with the Red Deer Catholic School Division said, “Upon review, our division has requested that Red Deer & Area Pro-Life make adjustments to their presentation to ensure it is more appropriate for students.”
They added Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools has implemented additional steps in the screening process for outside agencies. Presenters and their materials will be more thoroughly reviewed by school staff and administration.
“With more careful screening practices, our administrators will ensure the contents will be the most suitable for our students. We apologize for any issues this particular presentation may have caused for our students,” said Chairperson Guy Pelletier of Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools’ Board of Trustees.
Red Deer Catholic officials declined requests for further comment on the issue.