RED DEER, Canada – Alberta Education Minister David Eggen is taking aim at a Catholic high school over a video shown to students that draws parallels between abortion and Adolf Hitler’s Holocaust atrocities.
Red Deer & Area Pro-Life screened the video “The Case Against Abortion, Personhood” for Grade 10 students at Ecole secondaire Notre Dame High School last month, and at least one student complained to education officials, CTV News reports.
The video, created by Abort73, compared abortion to “Hitler’s scheme by which severely disabled children could be murdered” in what Eggen described as “propaganda” that doesn’t belong in public schools.
“As soon as we heard about this … we were in immediate contact with Red Deer Catholic (School Division). We were the ones that informed them, which I found quite concerning, because it’s their responsibility to ensure the integrity of what is being used in their classrooms,” the education minister told CTV News.
“If this is taking place in any other classrooms across the province, I want to hear about it,” he said. “Because the presentation was inappropriate, and misleading, using incorrect information and quite frankly frightening.”
Eggen did not detail or correct any of the “incorrect” information.
Red Deer Catholic Regional Schools issued a prepared statement about the kerfuffle on Monday, the Edmonton Sun reports.
“The intended outcome of this presentation was to teach our students that ‘human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,’ as explained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” the statement read.
“It has come to our attention that the presentation by Red Deer (and) Area Pro-Life contained controversial resources that did not achieve the intended teaching outcome in a suitable manner.”
The division also “requested Red Deer & Area Pro-Life make adjustments to their presentations to ensure it’s more appropriate for students,” CTV News reports.
The group’s spokesman and board member Joel Soodsma told the new site it’s understandable that the video upset some, but did not back down on comparing abortion to the leader of Nazi Germany.
“Will we continue to show that video? Probably not. Will we continue to use that example, that comparison? Definitely so. Because we believe it’s a fair comparison, and when you look in history at people, groups that were denied legal protection, the atrocities are horrendous,” he said.
Cristina Stasia, head of the of the education organization Accessing Information not Myths, told CTV News it’s not the first time that the pro-life group has sparked a backlash at the school.
“We do know that students have complained about this group and presentation in the past and we know this group presented to the teachers during a PD day and the teachers went to the principal and brought their concerns forward. There were alarm bells raised before but this group is allowed to continue to present in schools anyway,” she said.
“In Catholic school systems discussions of abortions and reproductive rights are important but giving students misinformation, giving them medically inaccurate information, scientifically inaccurate information, myths, shaming sexual assault survivors, that’s not part of having an honest conversation.”
Like Eggen, Stasia did not elaborate on the allegedly “inaccurate” information.
Accessing Information not Myths is now calling on provincial leaders to investigate Alberta’s sex education programs for schools.
Eggen, meanwhile, is demanding answers from Catholic school officials about why the video was shown to students, and pressing to push Red Deer & Area Pro-Life out of schools.
“The presentation as part of the whole package…was using a larger package of inappropriate, misleading and incorrect information. The Red Deer & Area Pro-Life group presenting in schools, I have a big problem with that too,” he said.