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Promoting Abortion at Butte Catholic Central Schools (Updated with Contact Info)

I’m positive that the people who run Butte Central Catholic Schools are not consciously promoting abortion. But they must be called out for promoting it in practice.

This month, the school fired Shaela Evenson, an unmarried teacher who got pregnant in violation of a morality clause in her contract. I believe the school was within its legal rights to fire Ms. Evenson. While I’m not a lawyer, I don’t expect her to win a suit if she files one. She signed a contract and violated its terms. I also believe the school superintendent when he says that Ms. Evenson no longer provided the example the school wished to give to its students.

However, by choosing to focus on punishing premarital sex by firing this teacher, the school has sent three very important messages that will be noted by students and employees alike:

  • The school does not believe in forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • If you break the rules, try to hide it. Nothing good will come of public disclosure.
  • If you’re a female employee or student, get an abortion before the evidence of pregnancy is known. You’ll be tossed out if the truth come out. Technical, the code also forbids abortion, but abortion is easier to hide than pregnancy.

As a Catholic institution the Butte Catholic Central Schools has an obligation to uphold morality as taught by the Catholic Church. But it also has an obligation to be pro-life. Tossing a pregnant woman to the curb for any reason, especially in the context of deleting her health coverage when her baby needs it is not being pro-life. It is being pro-legalism. But it didn’t have to be this way. Some alternatives that could have been tried:

  • Transfer Ms. Evenson to an administrative position at the school away from children.
  • Work with the diocese to offer her an alternative job.
  • Let Ms. Evenson stay as a teacher but require some sort of public apology for violating her contract, along with possible community service after her maternity leave.

Any of the above choices would have allowed the school to make it clear that violations of morality clauses were taken seriously and not to be emulated while allowing this Catholic institution to act in an authentic pro-life way. Instead they chose the easy way out but one that encouraged any unmarried woman affiliated with the school to seek abortion if the same thing happens to them.

That to me, promotes abortion. And that’s not a good thing.

If you’re curious about my complex (and unsatisfying to anyone) views on abortion, I’ve written some on the subject. TL:DR – I am unwilling to ban abortion while our society does such a poor job of supporting pregnant women and children. At the same time, I am an advocate of nonviolent solutions and reject violence against human life unless there truly is no alternative. Unless the life of the mother is threatened, there are usually alternatives to killing the baby that don’t involve shackling the mother to an unwanted child for 18 years.

I’m also greatly in favor of contraception. I think there is solid evidence it reduces abortion. I’d like to see it universally and freely available to anyone who wishes to use it.

Finally, I believe we should support all pregnant mothers and that’s why I’m calling out this Catholic school in Montana. Because they should know better.

UPDATE 2/18/2014

If you would like to encourage the school’s Bishop, George Leo Thomas of the Diocese of Helena to change the school’s action to one that is more pro-life, here are a few options:

Sign the petition at Faithful America – I don’t love the wording, but it does allow you to add your own comment.

Send a postcard or letter to the diocese as the Bishop does not do e-mail publicly:

Diocese of Helena
P.O. Box 1729
Helena, Montana 59624

Email the editor of the Montana Catholic, the diocesan newspaper:

Editor and Advertising Manager:
Dan Bartleson
dbartleson@diocesehelena.org

If you do choose to write the diocese or newspaper, I encourage you to stay respectful. Insults will not help and may merely confirm the authorities they did right. I think you will have the most success if you note that firing a pregnant woman; even if she violated a contract by becoming pregnant outside of marriage; is incentive for abortion. Not only for other staff, but for women students who find themselves in a similar situation. Point out the availability of other sanctions against Ms. Evenson.

Another approach might be to point out the lack of forgiveness in this policy. As far as is known publicly, firing Ms. Evenson was the only option considered. For a church that publicly proclaims repentance and forgiveness, this action does not set a good example.

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