FALKLAND, British Columbia, June 2, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - “Did you know that from the moment of conception, every distinctive characteristic of this new human being is programmed into this single initial cell?” asks Calise Jontz.
Young, bright-eyed and articulate, 10-year-old Calise lives with her parents and seven siblings on a cattle ranch in rural British Columbia. An avid Justin Bieber fan, she also loves horses, reading, singing and dancing. Most recently, she has become a pro-life advocate.
“Today I will be speaking to you about abortion,” continues the confident, self-assured Grade 5 student from rural Falkland, B.C. “Is this a controversial issue? Yes, but like all controversial issues it requires urgent attention and education.”
The statements come from a speech that the young girl delivered as part of a school speech contest. When Calise first delivered it at her local school, it “didn’t seem to be bothered by this topic,” says Calise’s mom, Yolanda Jontz, “although the Principal did request to hear her speech initially, I guess to make sure it was appropriate for elementary school aged children.”
But all that changed when Calise went to the regional speech competition at a nearby host school, where Jontz says her daughter encountered what she called “intimidated censorship.”
According to Jontz, her daughter’s speech deliberately did not include any graphic details about abortion, such as descriptions of partial birth abortions, instead sticking to the facts and results of abortion in a manner appropriate for a young audience.
Nevertheless, upon arriving at the host school for the speech competition, Yolanda and her daughter found the gymnasium nearly empty, where Yolanda says usually the entire school, as well as competitors and parents, would attend. A handful of competitors, parents, and the judges were present for Calise’s speech, but only after her speech, as well as few others, did both younger and older students come.
Yolanda says that Calise’s speech was singled out and boycotted by other schools, with students and their parents being forewarned about its content.
LifeSiteNews contacted the principal at the school that hosted the competition. Principal Denise Brown was reluctant to discuss the issue, saying no letter about the speech had been sent to parents at her school; she directed all other questions to Wendy Woodhurst, School District Director of Instruction.
In response to inquiries about what actions the school took in reference to Calise’s speech, Woodhurst refused to comment unless a face-to-face interview could be conducted, which was impossible for the reporter.
Yolanda told LSN, however, that at least one parent that she knows of received a warning letter about the abortion speech, while no mention was made of other controversial and even gory topics.
“We weren’t informed that one speech was going to be about dolphin slaughter, or that another was about how great Lady Gaga is. This seemed unfair,” she said. “Maybe people can be offered the chance to hear it for themselves and decide if it is offensive or not.”
However, Yolanda says that one adult male approached her following her daughter’s presentation and, with tears in his eyes, commended Calise for her speech and her bravery.
Another student’s father, formerly a trustee with the school board, also praised Calise and expressed concern about the negative attention surrounding her speech, said Yolanda. While he said he might not agree with everything Calise presented, he would never have censored her topic. The speech, he added, had sparked good discussion with his own daughters.
“Intimidated censorship,” said Jontz. “That’s kind of what I viewed it as. It must have upset somebody, because it wouldn’t have gone this far.”
In the speech Calise asked: “Is the fetus human? And does it deserve protection?” concluding, “The answer to both is yes.”
“A fetus is a rapidly developing human being, not just a clump of cells, and is worth protecting. Many stages of human development have been scientifically documented, just view an ultrasound – I have,” says Calise, who explains that she saw ultrasounds and felt the movement of her younger brothers while they were still within their mom.
“So what is abortion, you ask?” concludes Calise. “Abortion isn’t just ending a pregnancy or eliminating a piece of tissue. No, abortion is killing an unborn child and hurting a mother.”