Delegates at the Educational Institute of Scotland’s AGM in Perth last night voted in support of a motion asking for a review of teaching materials associated with abortion.
It followed a lively debate during which teachers confessed to struggling after being approached by pupils considering a termination.
Annie McCrae, an English teacher from Edinburgh who proposed the motion, said one in three women in Scotland have an abortion at some stage in their life, a “shocking statistic”.
She said: “It’s not a motion asking you to make a judgement on whether you are for or against abortion. I am aware that a lot of fellow trade unionists are concerned that there is a lot of misinformation and mythology about abortion. What the motion is asking to do is not to make a judgement, but to look at what’s actually happening (in schools). There are huge inconsistencies where abortion is included in the curriculum.
“Young people have the right to accurate information, so they can make informed choices about pregnancy. It’s important young people can think through the issues around pregnancy and know where they can go to get non-judgemental help and advice. We’re asking for a review of what actually happens - what materials are used.”
Colin Davidson, a teacher of religious, moral and philosophical studies (RMPS), said he had to deal with the issue after a pupil approached him to say she was considering an abortion.
“I was left with the empty feeling that a young girl was having to come to a male teacher to ask what to do - I think it’s a shocking situation. I think we are doing a disservice to girls in our schools. This is something that is long overdue - as a male teacher, I would welcome any help I could get.”
However, Des Kenny, a teacher from Glasgow, said as that as practising Catholic, he thought it important that pupils were made aware of the alternatives to abortion.
Paul Bladworth, an RE teacher from East Dunbartonshire, added: “I don’t have a problem with a review of information, but this is important to think through. There’s something slightly disingenous, an undercurrent that troubles me. Abortion is a moral issue. If you are concerned about the rights of disabled people, then why are we not concerned for the rights of unborn people.”