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Education Reporter


Steamroller Squelches Debate on Abortion
All Vincent Treacy wanted was a chance to be heard. An NEA delegate from Florida, Treacy had requested, and received, permission to address his fellow delegates on behalf of a proposed change in the wording of the Association's resolution on family planning.

A delegate from Illinois had secured the 50 signatures needed to successfully petition for an opportunity to debate the resolution, which proclaims the NEA's support for "family planning, including the right to reproductive freedom." The petitioners sought to replace the euphemistic expression "reproductive freedom" with a forthright discussion of sexual responsibility.

When debate on the resolution was postponed for a day, Treacy made a point of verifying that he was still on the list of delegates scheduled to speak on the subject. The following day, Treacy stood ready at the microphone, prepared to exhort the delegates to withdraw the NEA's endorsement of "reproductive freedom." Two delegates opposing the proposed change spoke first, however, and one of the two moved to close debate on the subject before Treacy could speak. The motion passed, and the proposed change was voted on and rejected without any argument being heard in favor of it.

A group of NEA delegates calling themselves Educators for Life encountered similar tactics after succeeding in getting a proposed amendment to the Standing Rules accepted for consideration. The amendment instructed the Secretary-Treasurer to ensure "that no General Fund monies are funneled or funded to organizations or associations that support and/or sponsor abortion services and/or abortion lobbying activities."

Delegates were to vote on this and other proposed amendments during their secret balloting for new officers. Two days prior to the voting, the amendment was reworded slightly to increase its chance of passage, but the revision was not recorded in the association's official daily transcript of activities as required. Furthermore, many of the flyers tacked up in the voting booths to inform delegates of the revision were torn down and destroyed before they could be read.

The amendment to cut abortion funding received 2004 affirmative votes out of 85%4 cast, and would surely have garnered much greater support had it been given a fair hearing. Clearly, when it comes to pro-life issues, the NEA's liberal leadership doesn't dare to let delegates freely exercise their right to vote.

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