Single Motherhood Trumps Abortion As Catholics Fire Unwed Mother


An unmarried female teacher at a Catholic middle school in Montana has been fired after getting pregnant. Shaela Evenson, the teacher in question, is of course going to sue, but it seems the archdiocese is going to stick to its guns. I can’t say I’m surprised by this news, but I certainly don’t think it’s a good decision on the part of the school or the diocese.

Patrick Haggarty, the superintendent, said that she “made a willful decision to violate the terms of her contract.” He added:

“The Catholic moral teaching is that the sacrament of marriage is a holy union between a man and a woman. And we certainly believe and we teach our children who attend our schools about the sacrament of marriage. That’s as old as our church. Not only do we teach that to the children kindergarten through 12th grade, but we’re held to that standard as well.”

I respect the Catholic church’s teachings, I do. I was raised Catholic. I understand that they want to teach a certain set of morals to their students. But firing a dedicated teacher who’d been teaching for eight years just because she got pregnant? That seems overly prescriptive, considering that Evenson’s life choices are certainly not the business of her employer, regardless of whether or not her contract required her “to respect the moral and religious teachings of the Catholic Church in both her professional and personal life,” as USA Today says.

Shouldn’t this Catholic school be happy that this woman is presumably choosing to keep her immoral, conceived-out-of-wedlock baby rather than abort it? They should be holding her up as a paragon of pro-life values, not terminating her contract. Giving birth to a baby that was conceived in less-than-ideal (by their standards) circumstances certainly seems to be in alignment with the “moral and religious teachings of the Catholic church,” at least in my mind.

Would the Archdiocese take the same action if this were a man who had gotten someone pregnant out of wedlock? I doubt it. I sincerely, sincerely doubt it. After all, men don’t happen to have pregnant bellies that might shock the innocent sensibilities of Catholic school children. When men are about to become fathers, it’s not showing indecently on their bodies.

Of course, this diocese in Butte is an independent school district that has the right to make whatever rules they want, no matter how backwards they might be. At least they’re not firing her for being a victim of abuse, like one diocese did to another female teacher. But I still hope that Shaela Evenson sues the vestments off them and uses the money to put her kid through Georgetown.

Photo: David E. Scherman/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

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