The principal of a fundamentalist Baptist school in Upper Marlboro yesterday issued an apology to parents for showing a graphic antiabortion film to elementary school students. The film was shown to more than 400 fourth through 12th graders during their weekly chapel service at the Capitol Christian Academy Wednesday.
Produced by Holtz Publishing Co. of Cincinnati, the hour-long film, "Abortion," analyzes medical and legal issue and concludes that abortion is wrong, the principal, Edgar James Wooten II, said. It had been shown to ninth and tenth grade biology classes over the past four years, but not to younger students, he said.
One parent, Janet Evans, whose 12-year-old son saw the film, said she would remove him from the academy. "It shakes my confidence in the school," said Evans, who lives in Capitol Heights. "It was a very adult-level film."
"It was an oversight, clearly a mistake to show it to the whole group," said Wooten, 28, who taught at the 800-student academy for five years before becoming principal last June.
He said that of the 350 families whose children saw the film on Wednesday, only seven parents telephoned him with complaints about the screening--"but that was enough to know that I had made a mistake." He said the film will never be shown again at chapel; he was uncertain whether biology classes would see it in the future, he said.
Evans, whose son was in his first year at the school, said the film showed color pictures of fetuses aborted by several techniques. "It was pretty gory--even for a high school level," Evans said.
Wooten described the film as "basically a discussion of the issues. There were no ladies--no pregnant women--shown in the film, simply the aborted fetuses."
Evans said her son could not eat or sleep Wednesday night. The 11-year-old daughter of a friend cried when she came home from school, she added.
"Not all the kids saw the second reel--which was worse than the first--because so many got up and left" during the screening, said Evans. Wooten turned off the film before it ended because so many had left the chapel, she said.