Teacher Sues Delaware Catholic School Over Abortion Firing
by Steven Ertelt
November 14, 2003
Wilmington, DE (LifeNews.com) — A teacher who was fired from a Delaware Catholic high school because she participated in a pro-abortion advertisement has filed a lawsuit saying her civil rights were violated.
Michele Curay-Cramer counted on her participation in a pro-abortion advertisement in a local newspaper producing controversy. Her name was on a list of more than 600 in a newspaper advertisement in support of the thirtieth anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
She was fired from Ursuline Academy afterwards and is now suing the school as well as the Diocese of Wilmington and Bishop Michael Saltarelli. She says Saltarelli directed the school to fire her after she refused to recant her pro-abortion view.
Curay-Cramer was a religion and language arts teacher and the school had offered to allow her to resign.
She said the ad was the first time she had publicly stated her involvement with Planned Parenthood, for which she started doing volunteer work in April 2002.
School officials said she should have been aware of the school’s stance on abortion.
"The Catholic Church is very much pro-life," said Ursuline spokesman Jerry Botto. "This is an area of the church where there is no gray area — it’s black-and-white. In keeping with that, that is something we teach here."
Her lawsuit claims that the firing is a violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1979. The church disputes her claims.
Thomas Neuberger, her attorney, told the Associated Press that the firing constituted sex discrimination and that, even as a private religious educational institution, the school isn’t above the law.
Though the Diocese wouldn’t comment specifically on the case, it released a statement saying "the Constitution guarantees every religious institution the right to practice and uphold the teachings of its faith, and the Diocese and the Bishop strongly support the right of every Catholic school to ensure that its faculty members teach and uphold the doctrine of the Catholic faith."
School attorney Barry Willoughby said the lawsuit’s claims are fallacious.
Willoughby said the school has a right to ensure that its teachers follow the principles and values it upholds.
"What she did is fundamentally at odds with what the church teaches and what the school is trying to instill in young students," Willoughby indicated.
School President Barbara Griffin said she was "shocked" when Curay-Cramer’s name appeared on the pro-abortion advertisement. The school sent a letter explaining her dismissal to parents.
On the same day Curay-Cramer’s name appeared in the pro-abortion ad, the school sent 45 students and two faculty members to the March for Life in Washington opposing abortion.
"They all know from the point of hiring that this is a Catholic school," Botto said. "The school’s obligation is to follow teachings of the Catholic Church."
Related web sites:
Diocese of Wilmington Statement – https://www.cdow.org/cgi-bin/news/news.cgi?p_id=0124&ppinc=detail