by Steven Ertelt
December 16, 2004
Wilmington, DE (LifeNews.com) — A teacher fired by a private Catholic school in Delaware is appealing the ruling of a judge who said Ursuline Academy was within its rights to terminate her employment because she participated in a signature newspaper ad promoting abortion.
Michele Curay-Cramer has filed an appeal of a federal district court judge’s ruling with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia.
Curay-Cramer’s attorney, Thomas Neuberger, told the News Journal newspaper, "It is the business of courts of appeals to re-examine the serious legal issues raised by this case."
"We hope to ultimately prevail because we believe that since 1990 the Supreme Court has ruled that such institutions are not exempt from the civil rights laws," Neuberger added.
Curay-Cramer expected controversy when she attached her name to a signature ad sponsored by a local Planned Parenthood. Her name appeared with 600 other local residents in support of the thirtieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
The ad was the first time she went public with her involvement with the nation’s largest abortion business, where she had started volunteering in April 2002.
Ursuline Academy officials said she should have been aware of the school’s strong stance against abortion when she got involved promoting it.
"The Catholic Church is very much pro-life," said former 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."
Curay-Cramer’s 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 school disputes her claims.
U.S. District Judge Kent A. Jordan previously dismissed three of the lawsuit’s six counts. He also threw out charges that the firing violated Delaware law, but Curay-Cramer can still take her lawsuit to state court regarding them.
School attorney Barry 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.
Curay-Cramer, who taught English at the school, now teaches out of state.
Named in the original November 2003 lawsuit are Ursuline Academy’s former president and communications director, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington and Bishop Michael A. Saltarelli.
Related web sites:
Diocese of Wilmington Statement on the firing –