Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt Talks Abortion With 1st Graders; Principal Apologizes
Schmidt, a conservative, brought up the controversial matter while talking about the connection between moral issues and legislation during a question-and-answer period, the Daily News reported.
"Unexpectedly, towards the end of her address, Congresswoman Schmidt brought up the topic of abortion," Prinicipal Dan Teller wrote in a letter to parents, obtained by Cincinnati's WLWT-TV. "Your children may come home with questions, especially if this is a topic that has not been broached in your home."
Schmidt was addressing students ranging from first to eighth grade. The name of the school was not reported.
"She defined abortion as the taking of a child's life in the mother's womb," Teller wrote. "She indicated that abortion involves the killing of a child before it is born."
The principal apologized "for any confusion or fear that this may elicit on the part of your child, and for the awkward position this may put you in of introducing a difficult issue at a time that may be premature for you."
Schmidt, who's up for re-election Tuesday, has not commented directly on the controversy. Her spokesman, Bruce Pfaff, told Cincinnati's Enquirer that the lawmaker brought up the topic after receiving "a follow-up question, which she answered consistent with Catholic teaching."
When students kept asking about abortion, Pfaff said Schmidt told them to talk to their parents.
Schmidt's Democratic rival, Surya Yalamanchili, seized on the issue as a chance to criticize the incumbent.
"I consider the Congresswoman's comments to these children to be very concerning," Yalamanchili said in a press release. "It showed the same awful judgment that she has displayed in Washington."