Some of the anti-reproductive-rights marchers in Edmonton today. Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Taxpayers’ contributions to publicly funded parochial schools appeared to be hard at work today in Edmonton as a throng of students from religious high schools throughout the province marched through the capital city’s downtown in opposition to women’s reproductive rights.

The annual anti-abortion March for Life sponsored by the Roman Catholic Church was led through the streets around the Alberta Legislature by a dozen or so members of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s lodge, but the majority of the 1,000 or so marchers were made up of high school students bused into town from places like Red Deer and Barrhead and the teachers who shepherded them.

Adriana LaGrande with Premier Jason Kenney (Photo: Facebook).

In at least some cases, busing costs appear to have been paid by school districts – as were the costs of substitute teachers to hold classes for students who chose for whatever reason not to participate in the march.

A letter to parents at St. Joseph High School in Red Deer encouraging attendance in the march by their children noted that there would be no cost to participants in the event beyond the need to pack a lunch and purchase their own fast-food dinner in Leduc on the way home.

Needless to say, regardless of their personal beliefs, most young people would be delighted with the opportunity for such an outing on a warm spring day in the company of their peers. Yellow school buses with the names of religious high schools could be observed parked on streets near the Legislature.

Dan Williams (at left) and friend (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

St. Joseph High is part of Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division, the former chair of which is now Premier Jason Kenney’s minister of education. Before her election as chair of the Catholic school division, Adriana LaGrange was president of Red Deer Pro Life, an anti-abortion group.

The so-called Wilberforce Project – William Wilberforce was an 18th and 19th Century opponent of the slave trade – actively campaigned for anti-choice activists like Ms. LaGrange who were seeking UCP nominations, although it refuses to say and no one in mainstream media seems to have tried to find out to find out how many of the group’s favoured candidates were elected.

Well, just-elected Peace River UCP MLA Dan Williams posted a social media message proclaiming his participation in the march, so that’s one name that can presumably be added to the list.

Mr. Kenney himself, a lifelong anti-abortion crusader, insisted again today he has no intention of revisiting the issue. For the time being, the acid test of that intention, will be on the regulatory fringes of reproductive rights. For example, availability of contraception to young people and what health services get delisted in the new government’s campaign to cut public spending.

In Alabama, meanwhile, the anti-reproductive-rights crusade has gone farther. A near-total ban on abortion could be voted on as soon as Tuesday in the state Legislature. Under the bill, a physician caught performing abortions could be sentenced to up to 99 years in prison. The bill provides no exceptions, even in cases of rape or incest.

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  1. It gets worse. Apparently, Georgia passed a law where, among other things, women who miscarry could be sent to jail for 30 years if the state can prove they induced the abortion (including, supposedly, drinking booze while pregnant). It also bans abortion outright past six weeks, despite the fact many women don’t even know they are pregnant by then. The punishment for that? Death. Lest you think this could never happen here, the U.S. is where our conservatives get their bad ideas.

    1. This is exactly where groups like the Wilberforce Project and politicians like Jason Kenney intend to go with this, I believe. The trip there will be incremental, like the proverbial frog boiling in a pot of water on the stove. DJC

  2. UCP’s hidden motto may in fact be a a version of Harper’s: “you won’t recognize AB when we’re done with it”.

    Alberta’s social conservatives in bed with UCP keep adding evidence to the record that AB government is now increasingly going to be dragged back into the church.

    Religious schooling should not funded by the public. Sunday school in their own churches is enough.

  3. Why wasn’t Jason Kenney telling these students they should be in class learning like he did when students protested for allowing GSA’s to go ahead?

  4. I wonder what Jason “we want to make sure students are learning, not doing politics” Kenny thinks of this.

  5. Your tax dollars also go towards paying teachers to teach and students to learn. Did you complain about the student walkout on May 3rd? I hope you didn’t, just as I would hope you wouldn’t here. After all, isn’t student engagement in law, politics, science and other fields important? Why don’t you get right to the point? You don’t like the pro-life stance and want to smear it. Catch that? “Pro-life” I believe is the term widely used. “Anti-abortion” is used by people attempting to use language to insert negativity. This article is pathetic fear mongering rage-stoking.

    1. Good one, Ben. Unfortunately, “pro-life” is the deceptive euphemism designed to disguise the malicious misogyny of the Catholic Church; “anti-abortion” is the simple truth. The only flaw with “anti-abortion” as a description of this state-subsidized political effort by the Catholic school system is that is doesn’t include “anti-contraception,” “submit to your husbands,” “women are to remain silent” beliefs this “pro life” movement is prepared to kill to preserve. As St. Paul said, “And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is shameful for women to speak in the church.” There are many such passages in Christian scripture.

    2. Actually I think the point is about school boards using education dollars (busing and substitute teachers) for a political purpose. What educational need was short changed to pay for the above?

      David didn’t complain about the GSA walkout, but Jason Kenney did, and that deserves comment. The GSA walkout and the climate change walkout did not cost the school boards any money, and both involved less time out of the classroom.

    3. How would you have felt if a public school board spent transportation and teacher time to bus children in for a rally supporting LGBTQ rights or the extinction rebellion? Those are real issues, not matters of faith. So yes, it is enraging to have people attempting to take away fundamental reproductive rights in the name of their faith. I might remind the good Catholics that when the settler trains arrived in Red Deer, the Orange Lodge had people there to tell the Catholics to go north across the river or to Lacombe. It may suit certain fundamentalists on both sides of that divide to revive the hatreds of Europe, but most of us would like to avoid that so we can address economic injustice.

    4. Ben, I agree with your comments, especially on the one of “Anti-Abortion” vs “Pro-Life”; yes it’s all in the language the left uses to push their death agenda, but as I’ve mentioned before nothing new. I would just urge them to see the recently released movie “Unplanned”.

    5. I won’t complain in either case if each student is taking part in something they truly believe in rather than to have a day away from school. I believe if you’re pro birth (don’t use the word pro life unless you’re doing something positive for children once they are born) then have children. If you’re pro choice then do what’s right for you. Stop trying to make decisions for women. It’s not your body so not your right.

  6. I noticed the comments regarding the tougher abortion laws in the US and as an American citizen I’d like to add my two cents.
    The catalyst for a number of much stricter abortion laws in many of our states was the governor of Virginia wanting to allow euthanasia of a baby after birth and referring to this as an abortion. Sorry, this is murder.
    I have also listened to a number interviews with young pro-abortion women who state that the cutoff for abortion should be between 3-5 years old. Once again, murder.
    Our Senate had a vote regarding giving the same immediate medical attention to a baby who survives an abortion as any baby of the same age, no one on the left voted in favor of doing so. Failure to provide life saving aid to an infant, sounds like murder to me.
    The left here has lost their minds, they couldn’t be satisfied with legal abortions per Roe vs. Wade and the right is responding with these laws.
    Personally, I’m pro good contraception. Condoms aren’t that. They were better than nothing back when there was nothing else. My mother had 5 pregnancies, all while using condoms. She was thrilled when the pill became available. Condoms keep the abortion industry in business. I also believe the morning after pill should be easily available and easily affordable. There are many form of birth control available these days. Use them.
    I feel abortions should be few and far between, there is something wrong when I see a statistic that more black babies were aborted than born alive in New York in a given year. Of course Margaret Sanger would be thrilled, that was her goal.

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