by Steven Ertelt
October 19, 2006
New Hope, PA (LifeNews.com) — The headmaster of a private Pennsylvania school that is the subject of intense criticism for taking its students on a field trip to a local Planned Parenthood abortion business is defending the school’s decision.
More than a dozen teenagers from the Solebury School were bused to an abortion center in Warminster on Friday, September 29.
Jason Gordon, a social science teacher, took the teens to the abortion business as part of a class on "activism," but the were denied access to a pro-life facility to hear the other side of the abortion debate.
In an interview with Bucks County Courier Times columnist J.D. Mullane, Solebury School Headmaster John Brown defended the trip and denying the students information about the pro-life perspective. During the interview, Mullane was placed on speakerphone and an unidentified individual listened to it.
Mullane said Brown claimed that parents of the students knew about the field trip in advance and Brown echoed comments Gordon made that the trip was to expose students to "the activism around the debate" not to encourage them to support abortion.
The school also came under fire for having students wear the same vests that Planned Parenthood staffers and volunteers use to usher women into the abortion center. Brown told Mullane that the students did not escort any women in for abortions and admitted that they probably should not have worn them.
“Planned Parenthood asked us to do that to keep track of the kids,” Brown told the newspaper columnist.
Mullane, who is pro-life, says he asked Brown about why the school didn’t expose the students to pro-life activism.
“There was pro-life activism there. They were exposed to that,” Brown said, referring to a handful of pro-life protesters who had gathered outside the abortion facility that day.
Asked why the teacher didn’t allow the students to have a discussion with the pro-life advocates, Brown curtly replied, "I think I have answered all your questions" and ended the interview.
Eileen Stone was outside the abortion facility with several other pro-life advocates when the students arrived.
"We tried to encourage them to come down and talk to us, to at least hear the other side of the story, but they weren’t allowed," she told the Catholic Standard and Times, a publication of the Philadelphia Catholic Diocese.
Abortion advocates played a radio loud enough that the pro-life people outside couldn’t talk loud enough for the students to hear.
“This is very, very disturbing,” Stone told the Catholic newspaper. “These students are only seeing one side. Shouldn’t they see another perspective? After all, education is about seeing the whole picture.”
Gordon, the teacher, told the CST that he would not allow a pro-life advocate to address his students because he said they were supposed to learn about activism but not engage in it.
“They’re not doing activism inside the clinic,” he claimed. "We talked to some of the people inside who are involved in activism, but I didn’t want them to engage in any activism. So, to talk to these other people, we’d be making a statement for their side.”
“I don’t impose anything on the kids,” Gordon insisted in an interview with CST.
Brown has not responded to requests from LifeNews.com for an interview but apparently indicated that he is receiving emails from pro-life people across the country as a result of our coverage.
ACTION: Voice your complaints to: Solebury School, 6832 Phillips Mill Rd, New Hope, PA 18938-9682 or call 215-862-5261, send a fax to 215-862-1870, or email John Brown at [email protected].