By Liz Townsend
Teachers across the country were outraged - - but not surprised - - that the National Education Association (NEA) was a prominent supporter of the April 25 pro-abortion march in Washington, D.C. The union, which receives dues from millions of teachers, has a long history of pro-abortion advocacy.
NEA officials acknowledged that it was one of the groups officially supporting the "March for Women's Lives." "We're not a sponsor, in the sense we did not provide for the logistics of the march," NEA spokesman Michael Pons told the Deseret Morning News. "March coordinators contacted the NEA, asked if they could put NEA down as a supporter of the event, and we said yes."
The NEA's official position, first adopted in 1985 and renewed each year, is that it "supports family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom."
This position angers many teachers, who believe that the NEA should not be involved in the abortion debate. Organizations such as Teachers Saving Children (TSC) have been formed by teachers who oppose the union's pro-abortion position.
"We would prefer that the association have a position of silence on abortion," Connie Bancroft, TSC national executive director, told NRL News. "Abortion is a political issue, not an educational one."
In a statement released before the pro-abortion march, the NEA attempted to frame its position as one of supporting "choice." "The NEA supports current law," the statement read, according to Fox News. "It believes in freedom of choice - - for or against abortion. There should be no government limits."
Pro-life teachers strongly disputed that the NEA supports the choice to be against abortion. "If the NEA is truly for 'choice,'" TSC board member Judy Bruns told the Washington Times, "we hope our union will be consistent and extend its hospitality and support to teachers who choose to participate in the annual January 22 March for Life in Washington." The NEA has never supported the pro-life march.
The NEA's position is especially troubling to teachers who are required to send dues to the union as part of collective bargaining agreements. While some states allow NEA membership to be optional, others make it mandatory. Many teachers object strongly that their money is being used to support abortion. In some locations, those in opposition to the NEA's activities can request that a portion of their dues be refunded to them or donated to a charitable organization, according to the Times, but this request is not always granted.
To counter the NEA's position, TSC, which has a membership of over 3,000 pro-life educators, works to "establish respect for all human life from conception to natural death," said Bancroft. As teachers, the group's members are particularly interested in bringing material on fetal development to the classroom and to NEA conferences.
"We want to emphasize the positive, the truth about human life," Bancroft explained. "We have an annual exhibit at the NEA convention to provide teachers with information they can use."
TSC also gives advice to educators seeking more information on how to prevent their money from funding the NEA's pro-abortion activities and others who want to try to work from the inside of the union and encourage it to change its abortion position.