National Campus Life Network > Articles by: central

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Ruth Shaw, new Executive Director as of April 4, 2017.

From ANASTASIA, outgoing Executive Director

After six years of working with National Campus Life Network I will now be ending my term with the organization. It has been a privilege to serve our NCLN staff and students, and to work alongside you over the past few years!

I am excited to announce that Ruth Shaw will be the new Executive Director!
Ruth has been working with us for the past year as our Communications Director. During this time she has contributed an immense amount to NCLN, going above and beyond her role as our Communications Director. She has naturally gravitated towards a niche of NCLN that sets her up to lead the organization. She has a passion for moving NCLN forward to achieve our goals and has an excellent strategic mindset. Her past experience doing pro-life and other non-profit work gives her a unique perspective as well as invaluable experience that she has shared with our team and students.
I give my full support to Ruth Shaw as NCLN’s next Executive Director, and am excited about NCLN’s future; I am confident that Ruth will be able to serve NCLN’s staff, students, and supporters so together we can reach students with the pro-life message, and continue to change hearts and minds, save lives, and change our culture.

From RUTH, incoming Executive Director

Dear students and NCLN supporters,

I am truly honored to have the opportunity to fill the position of Executive Director for NCLN.

I have been doing pro-life activism consistently since 2006. My activism days began on a campus where I was thrown into the heart of the clash of ideologies during my time as President of Carleton Lifeline, the pro-life club at Carleton University. During my time there, I experienced censorship that began with the denial of club status and ended with the arrest of myself and 4 other club members. I have experienced the rejection of friends, the stress of carrying a club, and the joy of seeing someone change their position on abortion. This has given me a wealth of experience that I hope to pass on to our team and the students we lead and serve.
After graduating with Honors from the Human Rights Program, I worked for two years for the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform where I was personally mentored by well-known Canadian apologists, Stephanie Gray and Jojo Ruba. This strengthened my pro-life activism and skill set as activist, mentor to other leaders, and speaker.
From 2011- to present I have been participating in and creating local activism through Ottawa Against Abortion, an organization I founded, while at the same time raising 2 little boys (William and Micah, ages 4 and 6 months). I began working for NCLN in 2016.

Students, I am committed to ending abortion with you on campus.
I am committed to reaching your peers effectively and compassionately. I am committed to walking with you through the highs of saving lives and changing minds, and the lows of feeling the weight of what we are doing. I am committed to you.
Please feel free to contact me anytime: ruth.shaw@ncln.ca; 1.877.618.4275 ext. 3.
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Why pro-lifers should not mourn the Morgentaler decision

Guest post by John Carpay

When the public misunderstands a court ruling, the consequences can be huge. For good or for evil. The 1772 ruling in Somerset v. Stewart, to free one Black slave in England, was misinterpreted by the public as freeing all 15,000 slaves in England, even though the ruling was narrow and technical.

Somerset, a Black slave, was brought from Virginia to England in 1769, by his master, Charles Stewart. Two years later he escaped. He was then captured and put on a ship to be transported to Jamaica, there to be sold. Somerset’s Christian godparents applied to the court for Somerset’s release.

The case attracted a great deal of attention in the press. Somerset’s lawyers argued that while colonial laws might permit slavery, neither the common law of England nor any law of Parliament recognized the existence of slavery, and slavery was therefore unlawful. Stewart’s lawyers argued that property was paramount, and that it would be dangerous to free all Blacks in England. Members of the public donated monies to support the lawyers for both sides of the argument.

Guided in part by the maxim fiat justitia, ruat coelum (“Let justice be done though the heavens fall”), Lord Mansfield ruled that since England’s written laws did not clearly permit or establish slavery, Stewart had no legal right to force Somerset to go to Jamaica: “… no master ever was allowed here to take a slave by force to be sold abroad because he had deserted from his service, or for any other reason whatever.”

Lord Mansfield’s narrow and technical ruling merely stated that British slave owners in England could not force their slaves to be forcibly taken to the colonies. But this judgment was actually silent about the status of slaves in England.

Lord Mansfield’s judgment had a profound effect on slaves. Many of them misunderstood the ruling to mean that slaves were emancipated in Britain. Despite Lord Mansfield’s best efforts, the case was reported in the press, and internationally, as ending slavery in England.

After the ruling, numerous newspaper advertisements of the time show that Black slaves continued to be bought and sold in England. Nevertheless, this court ruling proved to be a boon for the anti-slavery movement. The perception of there being an “anti-slavery” court ruling, while inaccurate, helped turn public opinion against slavery. In 1807 Parliament abolished the slave trade, and by 1838 slavery in British colonies was also abolished.

In 21st Century Canada, there is much public confusion about the 1988 Supreme Court of Canada ruling in R. v. Morgentaler, rendered 29 years ago this January 28. In Morgentaler, five of seven Justices struck down section 251 of the Criminal Code, which allowed abortions only if approved by a Therapeutic Abortion Committee.

Justices Dickson and Lamer held that section 251 was arbitrary and unfair, and did not provide a clear exemption from the criminal law. Nowhere do they state that there is a constitutional right to abortion.

Justices Beetz and Estey recognized society’s interest in the protection of the unborn child, ruling that Parliament is justified in requiring a reliable, independent and medically sound opinion as to the “life or health” of the pregnant woman in order to protect the state interest in a foetus.

Justice Wilson held that protecting an unborn child is a “perfectly valid legislative objective,” especially during the latter stages of pregnancy, but not in the early stages of pregnancy.

Justices McIntyre and La Forest ruled that “no right of abortion can be found in Canadian law, custom or tradition” or in “the language, structure or history of the constitutional text …or in the history, traditions or underlying philosophies of our society.” These two Justices also recognized the public interest in the protection of the unborn, and stated that courts must refrain from imposing or creating rights with no identifiable base in the Charter.

In short, the Supreme Court in Morgentaler recognized expressly that Parliament has the right to pass legislation to protect the unborn, with five of seven Justices striking down Section 251 as the wrong way to achieve that legitimate goal. This muddled and incoherent decision was not a victory for pro-lifers. However, with the Court inviting Parliament to draft different legislation, this ruling is certainly no victory for pro-choicers.

Nevertheless, abortion supporters have sometimes characterized the Morgentaler ruling as a Canadian version of Roe v. Wade, by which the U.S. Supreme Court did, in fact, create a constitutional right to abortion. For example, some student unions have claimed that pro-life speech should be banned at universities “because abortion is a constitutional right.” Leaving aside the fact that a free society allows its citizens to criticize and disagree with the constitution, this claim completely mischaracterizes the Morgentaler decision.

The false notion that R. v. Morgentaler established a constitutional right to abortion can have a very powerful and negative impact in shaping public policy. If the Canadian public perceives the Morgentaler ruling as a pro-choice victory, this will influence public opinion in favour of abortion being legal.

Those who want to see Parliament pass a law to protect the unborn should not mourn the Morgentaler decision as a victory for their pro-choice opponents. Doing so helps the pro-choice side.

Instead, pro-lifers should point out that in Morgentaler, the Supreme Court invited Parliament to pass legislation to protect the unborn.


Calgary lawyer John Carpay practices constitutional law.

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Meet the Fierce Women Saving Lives at Western University

LIGHT-BEARERS by National Campus Life Network on Exposure

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Censorship Remains Unchecked at Laurier

A Response to the Letter from the LSU President

By Josh MacMillan, NCLN Campus Coordinator

On October 20, 10,000 pink and blue flags were set up by the pro-life club at Laurier campus, representing the 100,000 abortions that happen every year in Canada. The display was torn down by protestors. (Photo: R. Harlaar)

Good luck holding an unpopular opinion at Wilfred Laurier University (WLU), because according to the Laurier Student Union (LSU), you will get no protection.

LSU President Tyler Van Herzele, an elected representative of the student body who “works with key university and community personnel to advocate on behalf of all undergraduate students,” recently set a precedent that completely sidelines them.

In an open letter dated December 7, 2016, Van Herzele made a statement about an event held by the pro-life club, Laurier Lifelink in October. The club had hosted the WeNeedaLaw.ca flag display, comprised of 10,000 small pink and blue flags, each representing 10 abortions that happen each year in Canada. The event is meant to inform students about the facts about abortion in Canada and start a discussion on it. Half-way through the day, the display was destroyed by protestors.

The event was approved by the LSU. The space was properly booked. Everything was in order according to the LSU and LifeLink President Stephanie Breukelman. Yet, in light of the complaints and destructive action on the part of some members of the WLU Community, LSU automatically places the blame on the pro-life club and does not give them a fair hearing. The LSU plainly refuses to acknowledge that LifeLink has had their rights to free speech trampled upon, and was treated unjustly, regardless of the content of the display.

In the letter, Van Herzele states that “discussion of controversial issues should [not] be avoided” on the Laurier campus, and that the LSU “remain[s] dedicated to supporting the fundamental freedoms all Canadians share, including the ability to openly express opinions and beliefs.” Yet, in the same breath, he blames LifeLink for creating an “adversarial tone” which “evoked a confrontation which eliminated the possibility of respectful dialogue and created an unsafe environment for all students.”

This “adversarial tone” was simply a visualization of facts and the promotion of healthy discussion between students about these facts. It was, in fact, the protesting students who tore down the display and who “eliminated the possibility of respectful dialogue” and “created an unsafe environment.” Where is this so-called “dedication” to free speech? Obviously at LSU, there is none for pro-life students.

Van Herzele has made it ominously clear that this kind of treatment is not over. “We are working… to ensure this does not happen again…[by] revising several clubs policies to ensure future events, particularly those engaging in controversial or polarizing topics, respect the multitude of personal experiences and perspectives on campus.” What does this mean? By uttering not a word to defend the pro-life students from the unjust actions of mobs (simply because they are challenging students to think about “controversial issues”), it makes it very clear that Van Herzele does not have the best interests of all students in mind, but instead believes that mob rule silencing minority and unpopular opinions is justified and should be defended.

It is clear from this letter that LSU and its President are opposed to free speech and are not taking any action to defend free speech. Laurier LifeLink was told in a meeting the “concerns expressed by the Laurier community members were discussed and clear expectations were set for any future events.” Yet, the protestors who tore down the display were not told that what they did was unacceptable, nor were any expectations set for conduct at WLU that does not censor the free expression of others. Until a statement is issued to the contrary, it is clear that the LSU does not encourage “intellectual and social inquiry,” nor is dedicated to “valuing the existence of a variety of viewpoints and opinions.”

We encourage you to demand that the LSU Board and its President, Van Herzele, make clear to the WLU community that mob censorship is not acceptable on a University Campus and that they uphold the right of Laurier LifeLink to host events just like any other clubs, without fear of censorship for expressing what may be an unpopular belief.  You can contact the LSU by filling out the Customer Service and Satisfaction Policy Feedback Form, located to the right of the letter linked here, or by contacting Van Herzele directly at:

Tyler Van Herzele
519.884.0710 x 3409


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Thank You Kathleen!

“Working with you has made every day – and even late nights – a blast.” 


After over 4 years of serving on staff with NCLN, we would like to send a heart-felt thank you to Kathleen LeBlanc as she moves on to do full time work in youth ministry.

We are incredibly appreciative of all that Kathleen has given NCLN; she has shared her talents and passion for serving students and saving babies, and has greatly impacted us with her gifts in digital media. She has also been integral in the growth and development of NCLN as an organization.

Although it’s hard for us to say goodbye, we’re grateful for her continued support of our work, and we wish her all the best with her new ministry!

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It’s the Message, not the Method

By Clarissa Canaria, Operations Director

On the afternoon of October 18th, I participated in ‘Choice’ Chain on the sidewalks of Ryerson University with our NCLN team in Toronto. We joined the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform and Toronto Against Abortion in showing abortion victim photography to students, holding signs as well as large banners depicting what a pre-born child looks like after being forcibly removed from the womb.

On this same day, the pro-life club at York University was holding an outreach table. As usual, they engaged students passing by, asking questions, and holding hand-made signs with various slogans such as “Life Begins at Conception” and “Human Rights for All Human Beings”.

Clearly, there are differences in the methods used to share the pro-life message at these two events. What was the response to each of them?

Choice Chain at Ryerson (Photo Cred: Toronto Against Abortion)
The pro-life club at York University with their tables and signs (Photo: YPY at York)
The pro-life club at York University with their tables and signs (Photo Cred: YPY at York)

The answer may surprise you. Both groups experienced the same opposition – the same censorship, the same reproach, and the same anger – from people who disagreed with them.

This further confirms what I’ve witnessed across the country since being active in the pro-life movement. It’s the pro-life message, not the method by which it is shared, that offends.

The following is a response I hear all too often: “I’m all for you sharing your message, but do you have to do it this way? I think people would respond to you better if you did [insert something else here] instead.”

The experience at Ryerson and York illustrates how this simply isn’t true, and what is unfortunate is that this comment not only comes from abortion advocates (those willing to engage in conversation, at least), but also from well-meaning pro-lifers; often times this reaction is based on a feeling of discomfort or second hand thoughts from a friend, rather than from directly experiencing engaging in dialogue.

Throughout my 4.5 years with NCLN I have worked alongside campuses across the province, using various methods to encourage dialogue on abortion. Further to the two previously mentioned, the QA Project, the We Need A Law Flag Display, as well as tables with embryology information and fetal models, have all received opposition, in part because of their ‘graphic’ and ‘offensive’ nature.

I want to set the record straight. We are fooling ourselves if we think there is a method to share the pro-life message that won’t offend someone. The feelings of offense from born people should not prevent us from sharing the truth of the pro-life message. This is not an excuse to be rash or to articulate our message poorly; we must always speak with compassion, alongside conviction. But the sooner we understand that it is the message, not the method, that offends, the better for the pro-life cause in moving forward and doing what is effective in saving lives – on- and off-campus.

Our message is offensive because we are sharing a truth that many do not want to hear. Yet, abortion is an offensive act that kills a pre-born child and we are doing no one a favor by sugar coating this bitter reality.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On-Campus Anti-Abortion Flag Display Torn Down By Counter-Protestors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On-Campus Anti-Abortion Flag Display Torn Down By Counter-Protestors

Waterloo, ON – Laurier LifeLink, the pro-life club at Wilfrid Laurier University, had their flag display torn down by pro-abortion protestors. The visually stunning project from WeNeedaLaw.ca consists of 10,000 pink and blue flags, each representing 10 abortions that happen every year in Canada.


10,000 pink and blue flags were set up on the Laurier campus, representing the 100,000 abortions that happen every year in Canada. (Photo Cred: J. MacMillan)
10,000 pink and blue flags were set up on the Laurier campus, representing the 100,000 abortions that happen every year in Canada. (Photo Cred: J. MacMillan)

As the club was peacefully passing out literature and engaging their peers in conversation about the issue of abortion, about fifteen protestors went into the display and started to remove the flags out of the ground before the event was scheduled to finish.

Although campus security was present, Rachel Harlaar, former President of Laurier Lifelink, stated that the university did very little to stop it. “In some people’s minds, freedom of speech only exists for the opinions they like to hear,” she said.

Protestors tearing down the display. (Photo Cred: R. Harlaar)
Protestors tearing down the display. (Photo Cred: R. Harlaar)

The club had approval for the event. Members of the university’s Students’ Union came out to the display, expressing their support for the club’s freedom of expression on campus.

NCLN Campus Coordinator Josh MacMillan was present the event and expressed dismay at the actions of the counter-protestors. “The display represents the sobering reality that children are being killed in our country. We recognize this makes people uncomfortable, but the truth should not be silenced.”

Laurier LifeLink will continue to do outreach on campus in the coming weeks.

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Your Reach is Wider Than You Think


Written by Anastasia Pearse, Executive Director, NCLN

As pro-life activists we know that we will never see the full fruits of our work; we do not know how far our efforts are reaching. However, once in a while we have opportunities to see the incredible impact each and every single one of our action can have.

When I was a student at UVic we filed a lawsuit against our Student Society because they refused to grant status to our pro-life club. Our activism on campus and our efforts to regain our status were consistently mentioned in our student newspaper, and, unbeknownst to me at the time, were closely followed by one of my professors.

This professor was co-authoring a second edition of a health and wellness textbook, An Invitation to Health, and because of the witness of our club, she placed a couple paragraphs about the pro-life movement in the reproductive choices chapter; she had realized how biased this chapter was, and how it could alienate students who were pro-life. When she wrote the third edition of the textbook she contacted me, asking if I could help co-write a pro-life section in this chapter!

Because our club was persistent in our activism and efforts to regain our status, and we were not afraid to be visible and vocal advocates of the pro-life cause, students in health and wellness classes across the country have heard about the pro-life message and been exposed to the reality of abortion.

As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”  We know that many lives depend on us speaking up and speaking out about the reality of abortion – how far will your voice reach?

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