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National Campus Life Network > Blog > Articles by: alexsibiga

U of G Life Choice: “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” A Perceptual Controversy (not about a dress)

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by alexsibiga. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

There are a couple of experiences that I’m fairly certain I’ll never have in my life. For instance, I’m fairly certain I’ll never go to Utah, or eat pickled eggs, or try bog snorkelling. Not to say those experiences are bad…I’m sure they’re all great, but I will probably never try them.

Another thing I thought I’d never do was the very thing I spent my whole reading week doing…

I spent my reading week using abortion victim photography to talk to people about abortion. 

Yeah, I still can’t really believe I did that. 

Using abortion victim photography as a method of changing people’s minds about abortion was something I knew people did, but I used to think it was an overall a bad idea. I thought it was too in-your-face, and I thought it’d make more people angry than change minds. Don’t get me wrong, I was all about ending abortion, but my idea of an effective method was to: (a) be kind to people, (b) address the topic of abortion with pro-choicers only when it came up (which as you can imagine was almost never), and (c) hope to somehow passively change everyone’s mind about the issue! Believe it or not, in the several years I’ve considered myself pro-life, this tactic hasn’t gotten me very far. 

Last September was the first time I heard someone talk about using abortion victim photography and the incredible effect they’d seen. I was definitely surprised and amazed to hear countless stories about people actually changing their minds after seeing the images and having a conversation. Hearing her story made me change MY mind, in the sense that I saw that this method did work. But I was still convinced I would never do it myself.

After that September though, I couldn’t silence a little voice in my head that chanted, “Do it, do it, Alex, you should do it.” Eventually I gave in to that adament voice, and there I was, off to Orlando, Florida to spend a week in front of a huge display of very sad abortion victim photography asking passersby what they thought about abortion.

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A conversation with a girl who was extremely saddened from looking at our display.

That experience, which I never thought I would have, was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I realized how necessary it is to talk to people about this, and how one image and one conversation could change someone so much. 

I had so many challenging, interesting, sometimes heated, often deep, and surprising conversations with people during those few days we spent at the University of Central Florida. The images really got people reacting and thinking. Some people saw the images and changed their minds completely about abortion, while others didn’t. Actually, one thing that surprised me was hearing just how differently some people saw the images. 

“What do you think of the display?” I would ask someone. 

“It’s fine. Those aren’t human.” 

That always caught me off guard. “Wait,” I wanted to say, “You don’t see a human in that picture? Are we looking at the same picture..?”

And you know, some of us see humans, some of us don’t. Some of us see blue and black, some of us see white and gold. How is that possible?

If you don’t understand that reference I just made, I’m super impressed that you’ve gotten away with not getting involved in the most random heated controversy on the internet, and forgive me as I pull you out from under your rock. This is what I’m talking about: 

What colours do you see?

Three days ago the world got into this ridiculously huge debate about the colour of a single dress. While half the world saw blue and black when looking at an image of this dress, the other half saw white and gold. The crazy part is that people are looking at the SAME thing! 

Now while determining the actual colour of this dress isn’t an ethical dilemma, the abortion debate IS, and one way or another, a grave injustice is going on. We all need to figure out if abortion is okay or not okay because one of two unacceptable things is currently happening:

  1. Abortion IS okay and pro-lifers are doing women a grave injustice by stealing their rights to their own bodies… OR
  2. Abortion is NOT okay and is ending the life of an innocent human being. Our nation is not only accepting this violation of human rights, but is also fully funding it through tax dollars.

Now, if the former is true, then I’m in the wrong and I’d appreciate if someone shared with me the truth. It’d be a tough pill to swallow, but hopefully I’d be honest enough with myself to admit I’m wrong and thank that someone for setting me straight.  

Yet I realized that’s why using images is so necessary- they get the conversation started. I used them to share how I see the pictures and hear how other people see the pictures, trying to get them to see that there is only one answer. Because in the case of the mysterious dress, there is in fact a right answer (the dress is actually blue and black, believe it or not…weird…) and so it is with the abortion debate. There is a right and a wrong here, and it was incredible to witness people come to see that. Many people did end up admitting, “I never saw it that way before. Abortion is wrong,” or at least, “I see where you’re coming from, I have to think about this more.”

And I know it’s not a pleasant experience, admitting being wrong, especially after being so sure of the contrary, but you know, discovering truth and admitting you’re wrong is one of those experiences that comes with being human.

So, after it all, I’m really grateful for the experience that I was so sure I would never have. It was hard but so so good. When two people look and that same thing but see something different, and that difference costs lives, that difference desperately needs to be challenged.

And we need not be afraid of that challenge. We just need to be willing to experience it.

Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.

U of G Life Choice: Remembering to Listen, Learn, and Challenge Ourselves as Pro-Life Activists

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by alexsibiga. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

- Brianne Gayfer, January 2015 –

I have over two years of experience, to date, being somewhat of a pro-life activist. As an extremely shy individual, I have pled my case mainly online, in blog form. Through countless discussions and debates with many people on the pro-choice side I have had my views on abortion stretched and reshaped over and over. I am still pro-life. Perhaps even more pro-life than I ever was before, but I think I have also gained a huge amount of understanding and compassion for both the pro-choice activists and the women who have wrestled with the choice to have an abortion.

Growing up I think I really believed that women who had abortions were evil and people who were pro-choice were crazy baby-haters, which is not all that surprising coming from a background where everyone I knew pretty much believed the same things I did. So I guess what I want to say here, to all pro-lifers, is that one of the most important things we can do for this movement is to start listening to the other side. Maybe once we start listening, we can engage in discussions that actually allow both sides to learn and grow. Both those for and against abortion so often speak defensively or in anger and I think that comes from a place of both sides desperately fearing what will happen if they are shut down

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Talking to many people on the pro-choice side, I’ve discovered something I didn’t really understand before: they are genuinely trying to help women in the best way they know how. I’ve spoken to too many young women coerced into abortions, because of a society that often presents abortion as not only A choice, but the BEST choice or, worse, the ONLY choice. If we can talk to each we’ll hopefully realize that we agree on some things – pro-choice advocates say that what they want for women is choices, but when abortion is presented as the only viable choice, no one wins. We don’t win, because a life is lost. Pro-choice doesn’t win, because there are no choices.

I think there needs to be more times that we can come together – both to support the other choices that women have (or should have) other than abortion, and just to talk. It is good to have people around you who agree with you, who can build you up and fuel you to stay strong in your beliefs, but it isn’t enough. To grow, to understand even your own position as a pro-life advocate, you need to engage with those who don’t agree. Not antagonistically, but earnestly listening, so that when your time comes to speak you can reply in a way that shows that you have taken the time to understand where they are coming from and you are not just arguing with your own preconceptions of what a pro-choice advocate believes.

Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.

U of G Life Choice: The Trap

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by alexsibiga. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

I’m convinced no one ever wants to have an abortion. Honestly, it doesn’t sound like a particularly pleasant procedure to have. I can’t imagine any woman upon finding out she’s pregnant thinking, “yippee! I get to have an abortion! This is going to rock!” I’d bet that’s not how it works. Putting aside for a moment the fact that it ends a human life, an invasive operation that involves picking apart a little fetus inside you just sounds awful. Abortion is awful. And while some people would say abortion is necessary, a human right, an important medical procedure, I really don’t think anyone would say it’s great. Abortion is not great.

Last semester was quite a busy one for our club at Guelph. One event we hosted was called Silent No More, a campaign where women came in and shared their regrets about their abortion experiences. The morning of this event we advertised in our university centre by surveying students and asking them what they thought about the abortion experience, and whether they thought regret was a common and big issue for women. One girl whom I chatted with answered my questions with wariness, cautious not to agree with me or my pro-life views. When I asked her if she thought all women who get an abortion actually want one, she answered with a quote:

“No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.”

Funny enough, it turns out she was quoting Frederica Mathewes-Green, the former vice-president of Feminists for Life of America. I didn’t know that at the time, and I’m guessing neither did she. Her quote did get me thinking though. The point she was trying to make was that yes, abortion sucks, but it needs to be available to women who find themselves trapped in a pregnancy they see no other way out of. Women don’t want to have abortions, but they have them because they feel like they must in order to survive.

To continue with the animal trap analogy, if one third of the women in our country were getting caught in bear traps and gnawing off their own legs, is the appropriate response of our society to provide them with the tools? Make it free and support them without judgement as they remove their own limbs and go on with life never the same? Hopefully everyone else sees that there should be a more positive solution here. We have to ask ourselves, “is there any way we can help free these women from these traps without cutting off their legs? What do they need, and how can we help them?”

Maybe making abortion more available to a scared pregnant woman isn’t the most helpful thing to do. If knowing that there are services, resources, and support available changes a pregnant woman’s decision to go through with her pregnancy, then isn’t that saying something? If a women chooses abortion because she feels she has no other option, then it’s not actually a choice. This might sound contradictory to say, but I think our campuses needs to be more pro-choice, providing not only for the needs of women who choose abortions, but also for the unique needs of women who choose life, because honestly…I bet that’s not easy.

So to the student who shared with me that quote—if you’re right, then we need change. If women have abortions for the same reasons an entrapped animal gnaws off its own leg, why don’t we do something about that? Women deserve better than this single ‘choice’ that they’re trapped with. Being pregnant ISN’T the bear trap; being pregnant and thinking abortion is the only option is the trap. Being pregnant and alone is the trap. An animal that gnaws off its leg is truly hopeless, but if someone was there to remove the trap, there’s hope in that. There’s life in that.

Can’t we offer that to women?

What if that would change things?

[If you’re pregnant and unsure of the resources and support that’s available for you in Guelph, email us at uoglifechoice@gmail.com or visit the following sites: http://michaelhouse.ca/ http://www.beginningsguelph.ca/ ]

Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.

U of G Life Choice: Dear UofGuelph, You’re Not As Pro-Choice As You Think You Are…

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by alexsibiga. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

When I started my university experience at Guelph, I wasn’t sure what to expect of this school. Orientation week was when Guelph made its first real impression on me, and one thing really struck me when this school was trying to win me over; I was told that my new university had actually been voted in the past as the “Most Caring University“. I thought that was pretty cool, and as the semester rolled on I realized my school definitely lived up to its title. Guelph cares. With so many support services for mental health, physical health, sexual health, financial help, gender equality, minorities and disabilities of all kinds, Guelph truly takes on the identity of being an all-around loving institution.

Wow, I live in the ideal university world, right? Well actually, in all its efforts to care, the University of Guelph seems to lack support services in one particular area… services for women with an unplanned pregnancy.

Let me ask you- what does a student need when she finds herself with an unplanned pregnancy? Support, information, and options, right?

Well, I don’t think the University of Guelph offers enough of these things…particularly the third thing.

Woah, wait Alex… you’re pro-life, you don’t believe in options! Guelph on the other hand, is pro-choice. They support all the options and offer all the options. 

Do they? Or do they offer just one?

Looking through the uoguelph website and researching what someone looking for pregnancy options would find, and here’s what I discovered:

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Hmm. Interesting how our school says “there are many places you can go for comfort and support where you will be given information to help you reach the decision that is right for you…” but the only decision that’s mentioned is abortion, and the friendly reminder that abortion is free.

What about the option to go through with the pregnancy? The option of parenthood? Or adoption? Yes maybe these options aren’t free and aren’t easy, but is it really pro-choice to not mention them?

Last year, our Life Choice club went to the school’s Wellness Centre with the idea of implementing a care package program through them: diapers, baby blankets, and other little things all packed in a diaper bag and completely funded by Life Choice, to give to any woman who comes to them pregnant and who’s not going to have an abortion. Surprisingly enough, the care packages weren’t accepted because that would go against the Wellness Centre’s “Choice Model“. Offering care packages could be considered a reward or a bribe for women to keep their babies, which would go against their un-pressuring philosophy.

“No no, it’s your choice. I won’t tell you what to do or push any diaper bags on you, but I’ll just kindly remind you that abortion is free.”

Does anyone else smell a double standard…?

The Sisters of Life, a group of women who have devoted their entire lives to help pregnant and post-abortive women say that the main reason women choose abortion is fear- fear that they can’t do it, fear that they don’t have what they need, fear that abortion is their only choice.

Guelph, I know you care, I see that in so much of what you do. Please recognize what is lacking. Don’t point a pregnant woman in the direction of an abortion. Don’t make her feel that it is her only option. Give her HOPE. If there is even one woman out there who chooses abortion because she doesn’t think she has a choice, don’t you care to prevent that? Shouldn’t this change?

Offering pregnant women on campus more resources that don’t point them to abortion, or to places that’ll profit from talking them into an abortion, is the mission of the Life Choice club this year. This Tuesday we’re having a bake sale to raise money for Michael House, an organization that offers shelter and support to pregnant and parenting women. There is help and support for the students on campus who will become mothers- they just need to know about it. I feel like this is a mission that both pro-choice and pro-life people can fight for together.

Motherhood is scary. And I don’t think any of our mothers would tell us it was easy, yet they all believed that it would be worth it. Because of that, we now live. A woman needs to be believed in, so don’t be so quick to tell her abortion is free putting that single choice in her mind as though she’s not strong enough to consider or do anything else. She is. She is strong and good and has the heart and the courage to be an amazing mom whatever circumstance she happens to be in. She is beautiful, supported and capable. And it’s your job to make sure she knows that.

So don’t take away that choice.

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Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.

U of G Life Choice: The Road Ahead

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by alexsibiga. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Wizard 6 Emerald City

You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right. - Rosa Parks 

A little over a week ago I spent a weekend in a place that seemed too good to be true, a made-up land perhaps…actually as more time passes, the more I feel as though I did just dream up the whole thing.

This Oz that I am talking about is the NCLN Symposium- a pro-life conference put on by pro-life power-houses to train and equip members of pro-life clubs on university campuses all across Canada. This was a place where everyone around was, in fact, pro-life and shared the belief that abortion is wrong.

Woah, right?

It was such a great and unusual experience being surrounded by people who feel the same way as I do about abortion and have the same passion as I do to end it. I was in a place where I could openly share how sad I am for the pain abortion causes women, or how angry I am at abortion clinics and their coercive ways used to make ridiculous profit, or how frustrated I am at our culture’s double standard when it comes to human rights. I could share these views openly and everyone agreed and shared similar opinions!  Seriously, not used to that.

Being a pro-lifer at a university such as Guelph’s, I’ve gotten pretty accustomed to being part of the minority who thinks the littlest of us should have the right to live and that the best solution for an unplanned pregnancy ISN’T to “undo” it. I am pretty aware that this isn’t the general consensus at school. With not a single pregnant student in sight and a Planned Parenthood ad in the section of our survival guides that’s supposed to tell us where to go if pregnant, it seems the culture around me is more pro-abortion than anything…

So as you could imagine, it was a breath of fresh air being at this symposium. I wasn’t in Kansas- I mean Guelph, anymore, and a big part of me wanted to stay there forever. That would be counter-productive though… if you want to change the world, you can’t only surround yourself with people who agree with you. So now we’re back to school, but I’ve taken a lot from the weekend with me, and I hope to hang on to all I’ve learned like a life vest in this stormy pro-abortion sea!

There are three specific things that struck me:

We are human rights activists. There’s a significant group in our population who do not have the rights that they deserve, that we all deserve- the right to live, and this is no different from the other major human rights violations in the past. When some people were considered slaves, it was perfectly legal to deny them their rights to freedom. The law said these humans were not persons. Many people accepted that this was how their society had to run. But then there were those few loud and bold individuals who stood up for them. Those human rights activists took on the struggle and fought the unconquerable battle until it was conquered. It’s no different now. We are human rights activists fighting for what will one day end, and when our grandchildren live in a world where, like slavery now, abortion is unthinkable, and they ask us if we did anything about it, we won’t have to be ashamed about our indifference or our silence.

Being Pro-life is an action. Okay so I’ve always thought abortion was wrong, but sometimes I just didn’t think about it, and sometimes I felt like it was just too big of an issue for me to be able to do anything…so I didn’t do anything. I justified this by telling myself that I know it’s wrong, I would never have one, and that’s as far as being pro-life needs to go. What’s wrong with this picture is that being an inactive pro-lifer is believing abortion is killing human beings but letting it go on! I know it’s a huge battle to fight, but we’re 100% sure to lose if we fight with apathy and inaction. The Pro-Life Movement is gaining momentum and everyone has something to offer it! We need social media masterminds, prayer warriors, convincing conversationalists, generous funders, maternal support super heroes, and SO much more. Preborn infants can’t speak or act. But we can. And we must.

Finally, Be courageous and have hope, change is ACTUALLY possible. The biggest thing I got out of the weekend was HOPE. It’s so easy to get discouraged and think that no one will ever change their mind about abortion, but I learned that hearts and minds are being changed across Canada. Through logical, loving, and honest dialogue many people are realizing the injustice. The CCBR, Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, is an incredible and gutsy organization that goes out to the streets with the very real images of abortion victims. As alarming as that sounds, a lot of people take those images to heart. Of course people get angry at the display, but then they talk with the CCBR members and come to the conclusion that abortion is in fact taking the life of a person. These conversations aren’t heated debates, like so many of our discussions about abortion end up being; these conversations are rooted in love for all life, and THAT is what changes things. I know this yellow brick road pro-lifers have to walk is not an easy one, but take courage and love those who are pro-choice, because it’s that courage and that love which WILL change hearts and save lives.

I’m writing all of this not just for you to read and hopefully be inspired, but for myself also. I feel as though the fire I have for this cause is blazing and ready to take on the world, but I know being at university is like placing this fire in a blizzard. This battle is so incredibly tough. Discouragement and apathy are sure to take a swing at me this year, but when they do, I hope to read this and remember that we can’t stop because we’re tired, or because it’s hard. We can only stop on the day every heart and mind believes the truth, and the land of Oz- the land that respects all human life, won’t be somewhere over the rainbow, but right here at home.

And there’s no place like home.

Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.