Jim Norman of Brampton, Ontario has charged the York Region Separate School Board, an 800-teacher board north of Toronto, with helping get his former girlfriend an abortion. The girlfriend is a teacher at the York Board.
In an interview in May 1988, Mr. Norman stated that he warned a number of people in February 1988 of the forthcoming abortion, including the principal of his former girlfriend’s school, a number of school board officials including the chairman of the board, a number of trustees, and some pro-life activists. His estranged girlfriend was planning to have an abortion despite his strong objections and an offer of total support, financial and moral. His 26-year-old girlfriend, with whom he had had a relationship since March of 1987, broke off the relationship when she discovered that she was pregnant. She chose to ignore his advice to have their baby.
When Mr. Norman discovered that she was planning an abortion, he hired Foxx Professional Investigators, Thornhill, to wait for her in the office of Dr. Arvind Khambhla, an obstetrician and gynecologist at 559 College Street in Toronto, on February 18, in an attempt to discourage her from having an abortion. This was to take place that day at Doctor’s Hospital. She never showed up.
Today, his former girlfriend has denied being pregnant. She now claims that Norman has acted out of malice because he was a “jilted lover” and he was out for revenge. The principal of her school, as well as Jim Hughes of Campaign Life Coalition, who had been contacted by Mr. Norman, heard her admit that she was going to cancel an appointment that she had the next day with a Dr. Khambhla. Moreover, evidence was presented to the Board Superintendent in the form of a sworn affidavit showing that the teacher was scheduled for an abortion at Doctor’s Hospital.
The principal made a strong presentation to the teacher for her to go to term with her baby. He promised the full support of the board which already has another unmarried teacher off on a maternity leave. However, the teacher was unaccountably off school from Friday, February 19 until Thursday, February 25, 1988. Subsequently the teacher informed the principal that her lawyer, Ed Rice, advised her to say that she was off on “health matters,” and of no concern to them. She produced no medical certificate to explain her mysterious absence.
The school board did not appear to want to cooperate with Norman when he asked them to pursue the matter with the teacher. Despite the evidence, officials took the view that they didn’t know whether the teacher was really pregnant and planning an abortion. After the teacher’s return, everyone favoured dropping the issue altogether.
One of the trustees wondered why it would be brought to the board level at all. Mr. Norman replied that he understood that the board strongly concurs with the Catholic Church’s condemnation of abortion. Superintendent John Zupancic demanded that Norman produce a medical certificate confirming that his girlfriend was pregnant before he would consider investigating the matter. This was the very thing Norman could not provide.
Chairman R. Celleste Pelliccione agreed that “you’ve given us the information and it’s up to us to deal with it.” But in fact, no action has been taken. In a letter of May 11, 1988, board lawyer, Barry Earle, informed Mr. Norman that the board considered the matter closed. Other senior board officials, including the Deputy Superintendent weren’t much interested either.
Jim Cooney, the president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) said: “In the final analysis it is a decision that she will make.” Said Liz Dorner, another spokesman for OECTA, “A lot of these things are resolved by the individual and their own conscience and I don’t think the board need to ask that, and if they do, she could say the baby was aborted and that’s it and whether it was natural or not natural – they don’t have to know (Emphasis ours)
Not wanting to know seems to have been the general attitude of the people concerned. But it is not an attitude which expresses concern or care about either the teacher or her unborn child. Jim Norman contacted all the people mentioned in this story – some, on numerous occasions – but cam away empty-handed.