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The Tally Ho

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Who was that masked volunteer?

The Sacramento Bee reported last week that a Catholic school drama teacher lost her job on Oct. 14 because of her previous volunteer activities at Planned Parenthood. Marie Bain spent nine months working as a volunteer clinic escort to assist patients getting in and out of the health center. She also apparently wrote a letter to the editor, one month before she began teaching. She said:
"Like it or not, teens get pregnant," the letter stated. "And the most important issue is keeping them safe. Safe means access to reliable health care, not gut-wrenching red tape."

A student's parent obtained pictures of Bain working outside the clinic, and sent the pictures to Bishop Weigand, who was head of the diocese. Weigand wrote to the principal of the girls' school to request her termination in clear and hugely quotable language. He said:
"Abortion is gravely immoral and Ms. Bain's active and public participation in the procurement of abortions is morally inappropriate and unacceptable with regard to her work as a teacher at Loretto.
"...[we must ensure that] those entrusted with forming responsible Catholic women at Loretto High School share our important Catholic moral beliefs and can serve in all respects as worthy role models for our young women."
Normally, I would assume that "worthy role models" would place a high value on volunteerism and standing up for one's beliefs, even if those beliefs happen to be unpopular in the larger world. Not so with the diocese of Sacramento, however. I've only been to Sacramento once; it was warm and welcoming to a stranger traveling alone, and seemed to be a progressive town. I'm sure Ms. Bain will have no trouble finding a job, and think that sooner or later this case will come back to bite the diocese that was so willing to discriminate and so unwilling to "teach the controversy," as the ID'ers would say.

This is a noteworthy case for me, since I engage in similar volunteer activities from time to time. One of my fellow volunteers wears sunglasses and a hat every time she works outside the clinic; she says that it's no one else's business who she is. I've always shunned the sunglasses and preferred to look patients in the eye as I greet them, but as a teacher, I'm suddenly wondering if that's not the best career move.

Speaking of which--why was that parent loitering around an abortion clinic, anyway?


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