National Campus Life Network > Articles by: nclnadmin

Growing up in the Shadow of R. v. Morgentaler

This post was written for the 25th anniversary of R. v. Morgentaler in 2013. This year, Jan. 28 2014 marks the 26th anniversary.

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

Gavin Richmond, 1897-1917
Gavin Richmond, 1897-1917

My great uncle was several years younger than I am now when he died, only one week away from his 20th birthday.  Gavin Richmond’s name is inscribed on the Vimy Ridge Memorial and his life is counted among the 62,820 Canadians who were killed in the First World War.  He was part of a generation decimated by the war.

They fought for our freedom and are rightly commemorated for it. But we have not used that freedom responsibly; we have failed to protect the most vulnerable and innocent in our society from a violent death. Today we mourn a shameful anniversary that has made possible the extermination of the lives of a quarter of our generation, but these deaths have no Remembrance Day. They largely go unnoticed and unmourned and, even more horrific, the slaughter continues day after day.

Ours is a generation of survivors. We, the remaining 75%, made it out alive – though some more narrowly than others. I have worked with students whose parents chose life when facing pressure to abort and others whose parents aborted their siblings. Many of us are probably unaware of the twisted legacy abortion has carved in the branches of our family trees.

Dr. Morgentaler’s oft-repeated mantra – still used on every Morgentaler clinic website – is: Every mother a willing mother. Every child a wanted child. This must make us, I suppose, the “wanted” generation that Morgentaler spoke of. Our parents could have aborted us if they had wanted. They were given, in neo-Roman fashion, the power of life or death over their children – death that was, of course, sanitized, state-sanctioned, and even funded by the public’s own tax dollars.

Abortion on demand, made possible through the Supreme Court’s ruling 25 years ago, changed our society with ‘wantedness’ determining whether we live or die for the first nine months of our lives. Yet we do not choose life or death for born humans according to whether or not they are ‘wanted’ or ‘unwanted’. The thought of classifying human beings in such a manner is profoundly disturbing – or ought to be.

When my own grandmother was pregnant with my father in the 1950s she did not decide to go forward with it based on whether or not he was wanted. (What decision would she have made, I have to wonder, if abortion on demand had been offered to her?) She carried a new life within her and looked out for his best interest by deciding to have my father adopted and raised by a couple who wanted a child. Despite Dr. Morgentaler’s classification of children as ‘wanted’ or ‘unwanted’, the fact is that children are children regardless of how we feel about their arrival. What is up to us is how we treat them.

Those of us who survived now have the opportunity and the obligation to secure the freedom of the next generation. We grew up in the shadow of R. v. Morgentaler with one quarter of our generation missing, but we are now capable young adults: we cannot abandon the next generation to such a fate. Twenty-five years of R. v. Morgentaler is twenty-five years too long. This culture of abortion on demand may be a stubborn shadow, but we can cast it out if we shine all the brighter with the light of truth, love and life.



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News release: Motion to Ban University of Manitoba Pro-Life Club Defeated But Concerns Regarding Future Censorship Remain

News Release


WINNIPEG, MB (October 9 2013) – On the evening of October 7th, the University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life (UMSCL) were glad to witness the defeat of a motion calling for the revocation of their club status. However, they are continuing to express concern about two other motions passed by the University of Manitoba Student Union (UMSU).

“We were encouraged to hear members of the council defend free speech on campus and see the motion to revoke our student group status defeated soundly,” states Cara Ginter, vice-president of UMSCL. “Unfortunately, two other motions were passed that could be used to censor our student group and others in the future.”

The first motion was put forward by two students as a response to a pro-life display hosted by the club September 23-25. This display, called the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), uses large posters with pictures of aborted fetuses and victims of historical genocides to argue that abortion is a human rights violation. Council members, including Nursing, Law, and Education representatives, spoke against the motion and it was ultimately defeated.

Two other motions were also presented by the council’s Student Group Promotions and Affairs Committee (SGPAC), which express concern over the content of the display and resolving that (1) the council meet with the university administration “to push for a reconsideration of the review and approval process for public displays” and (2) that the policies governing the penalization of clubs and revocation of club status be reviewed and clarified.

“We applaud the student union’s defeat of the first motion and hope they will use that good sense moving forward,” states Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network (NCLN), an organization that supports pro-life students in Canada. “UMSU is certainly within its rights to review its own policies and even discuss the display approval process with the administration – as long as they don’t attempt to hinder the club’s right to exist and exercise its freedom of expression on campus.”

“The display was a great opportunity to dialogue with students about the issue of abortion,” says Ginter. “We’re looking forward to continuing this conversation over the course of the year, educating our peers about this important human rights issue.”


For more information please contact:

Cara Ginter, vice-president, University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life: caraginter@hotmail.com

Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for National Campus Life Network: westerncanada@ncln.ca

John Carpay, JCCF President and lawyer acting for the students: 403-619-8014, jcarpay@jccf.ca.

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What Have We Gotten Ourselves Into?

By Rebecca Richmond

I was new on the job and only a recent grad myself on October 4th, 2010. The NCLN Symposium had just finished and we caught a train to Ottawa to help out Carleton Lifeline as they put on the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP).  Well, as they tried to anyway.

Carleton arrests resizedMy job that morning was to take photos just in case.  And take photos I did, recording moments that seem more like a dream than a memory: friends being handcuffed and driven away in police vans.

What had I gotten myself into?

Three years later, as I enter my fourth year on staff with NCLN, I often find myself wondering the same thing. As do, I know, too many students who may not have to face handcuffs, but still have to fight long and hard for their rights on campus.

Since joining staff with NCLN I have worked with clubs coast-to-coast as they face discrimination. This fall is no different. Just one month has passed since school has started and already clubs are fighting opposition.

In Winnipeg this coming Monday, the University of Manitoba Student Union will vote on a motion to ban the pro-life club on campus – University of Manitoba Students for a Culture of Life – because the club ran the Genocide Awareness Project  (GAP) last week.  While the university acknowledged the free speech rights of the students to run the display, the student union members appear to require a bit more education on what freedom of expression entails.

In Victoria the legal representative and former president of the University of Victoria’s pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth, is suing the university because of the censorship of the club’s “Choice” Chain event last winter and the restrictions placed on the club to prevent them from hosting similar events. 

And these are just the recent developments. It would take longer than one article to go through everything students went through last year – or even last semester.

So what have we gotten ourselves into?

We’re in a human rights movement, a culture war, a battle for the soul of a nation.   We fight for the very principle that holds – or ought to hold – our society together: that human life is valuable and that all humans, no matter what their abilities or circumstances might be, have a right to life.  We are counter-cultural and, as such, we challenge our society.  When we speak truth, it unsettles, disturbs and offends those who would rather remain in denial. When we speak up, others may try to shout us down or shut us down.  It has always been this way; why should we expect any different?  But we must also ask ourselves, what cause was won without sacrifice?  What victory was secured without a price?

No, it’s not fair.  And we will fight for fair and equal treatment for pro-life students.  But we do so, or at least the students and NCLN do so, because of the cause that got us into trouble in the first place.  When we fight for our rights, we do so not for ourselves, but for those we fight for: the preborn children who are being slaughtered every day in our country and for their wounded moms and dads.

It would be easy to say that we’ll take up the challenge after our education, when we have a steady job and a few more letters behind our name, when we have more time and aren’t constrained by midterms, papers or our course schedule.  But we cannot wait until tomorrow when we are presently in such a critically important environment.  Being a university pro-life activist might cost us something but I also believe, like Martin Luther King Jr. did, that it is worth the cost.

“Make a career of humanity,” he said, “Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

But ultimately it is the lives on the line that keeps us going when the opposition mounts.  It is the witness of friends, like the students arrested at Carleton in 2010, who inspire us.  It is the truth awakened in our own hearts that compels us to end the injustice of abortion and build a Culture of Life – starting with our campuses.


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News Release


BRANDON, MB (September 9, 2013) – As the school year begins, a pro-life club at Brandon University has finally been granted full club status after a lengthy process that has taken an entire year.

“It’s been a long, frustrating year so we’re glad to finally have official club status,” said Catherine Dubois, President of Brandon Students for Life. “It has taken a lot of work to get us here, but we are thrilled at the opportunity to spread the pro-life message on campus! Our executive has a lot planned for this semester and so now that we have status we can hit the ground running. We are extremely excited to be ratified and to be able to really engage, connect with, and educate our peers.”

The student union’s decision was communicated to the club’s lawyer, John Carpay, at the end of August. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms had intervened at the end of April by informing the student union that legal action would be taken if club status was not granted.

“It is illegal for a student union to deny club status on the basis of the club’s beliefs, opinions, or philosophy. All students are required to pay dues to the student union, and all students enjoy the same right to start the club of their choice. I am pleased that the situation at Brandon was resolved without needing to go to court,” stated Carpay, President of the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.

The controversy began in August 2012 when Catherine Dubois and another club member met with the student union president and vice-president external to discuss starting a pro-life club. They were then informed that the student union would not approve a pro-life club, as they wished to avoid division on campus. The pro-life students filed for status despite this on January 23, 2013 but received a rejection on February 4th, citing conflicts between the union’s bylaws and the club’s constitution.

Students for Life continued their fight for status, and further inquired about what policies their proposed constitution required. After receiving the policies and discussing the issues with members of the student union, the club made amendments and resubmitted on March 5th.

On April 2nd, the club was informed that the student union would defer the decision on whether or not to grant status to next year’s council, thus preventing the club from having status on campus for an entire year.

“Getting club status should not require an entire year or lawyers,” stated Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for the National Campus Life Network, a Canadian organization that exists to support pro-life clubs like Students for Life.“We applaud the student union’s decision, but the club should never have had to go through this lengthy process in the first place.”


For further comment please contact:

Catherine Dubois, President, Brandon University Students for Life, studentsforlife.bu@gmail.com

Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator, National Campus Life Network, westerncanada@ncln.ca, 604 365 3484

John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, jcarpay@jccf.ca, 403-619-8014


Visit Brandon U Students for Life Blog here!

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Does the St. Mary’s Frosh Week Scandal Have Something to Teach Us?

By Rebecca Richmond

In case anyone wasn’t yet aware that Canadian campus culture is in need of some change, Frosh Week at St. Mary’s University in Halifax recently provided a graphic case-in-point.

The shocking Instagram video of the university’s frosh event is a PR nightmare for the institution, making national headlines thanks to the orientation officials championing of underage, non-consensual sex.  Or that’s what the Canadian Press called it.  Last time I checked, ‘non-consensual sex’ was the definition of rape.


The troupe of chanting boys yelled gleefully:  “SMU boys we like them YOUNG! Y is for your sister. O is for oh so tight. U is for underage. N is for no consent. G is for grab that ass.”

The girls seemed to be giggling awkwardly and someone, obviously, found it entertaining enough to post on Instagram.

The St. Mary’s administration is, understandably, upset and the student leaders will be receiving sensitivity training.  Personally, I think something a little more intensive is in order.  Perhaps a complete psych workup to find out how their critical thinking, reasonable thinking, and thinking in general went completely out the window…

But the broader question for all of us is how did they get an entire group singing along? Unless something has radically changed in a couple years, these students would have, like me, grown up in our politically-correct school system with comprehensive sex-ed, teachers who were very sensitive to gender neutral pronouns, self-defence gym classes, and a heck of lot of quasi-feminist rhetoric.  So…how does this chant happen?  And how did everyone in the video go along with it?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that our society still accepts and even applauds, at times, an objectification of women.  From TV to magazines to storefront displays, marketers play on human insecurities and promote a  sexed up ideal that will somehow, they suggest, fulfill us.  Porn is now a staple of many a man’s browsing history – and increasingly younger and younger boys are exposed to and becoming addicted to porn.  And for us girls there’s Fifty Shades of emotional abuse and an ever-expanding industry of such wasted paper.  (There’s much more that could be listed but this is supposed to be an article and not the introduction to a ten volume book.)

And so, as we enter a new school year, we should be aware that human worth and human respect is under attack in our world, our country, and our campuses.  We must be willing to challenge our culture and insist upon the value of all human beings, none of whom should be spoken of as the SMU boys did.

In our work, we start with the very basic principle: that all human beings deserve human rights.  We reaffirm that all of us are fundamentally equal, no matter our gender, our race, or our age.  And we proclaim boldly that women and men deserve better than abortion and a culture that callously discards the most vulnerable of the human family.

The Instagram video is embarrassing to St. Mary’s University, but it should embarrass Canadian society in general.  It’s time that we realized that healing our culture will take more than decades of ‘no means no’ campaigns.  Pro-lifers realize this.  So welcome to  another school year.  We have work to do.


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“No Choice”: A Magazine Reviews Canada’s Pro-Life Movement

The cover of the summer issue of Maisonneuve Magazine.



Prepare to grin, grimace and grump: this article has it all. 

Given that the article published in the arts and opinion magazine Maisonneuve was nearly a year in the making and given that NCLN staff were interviewed, we were interested to see what the authors would say about Canada’s Pro-Life Movement.  It’s a mixed bag, but certainly an interesting read.

The lovely ladies of ProWomanProLife have responded, calling out the authors for their assertion that “strict physicians’ guidelines cap abortions at twenty-four weeks” (those guidelines are found where exactly?). 

And Faye Sonier ‘howls with laughter’ at the comment that pregnancy centres are notoriously litigious:

“Yes, those crazy pro-lifers and their buckets of money – money collected from ye olde money tree in the parking lot.  Money that they then throw at their team of lawyers.  Lawyers they keep on retainer and on-call, to address any perceived slight.  Yes, that sure sounds like the reality of non-profit and charitable organizations everywhere.  And to support their claim, they provide a single example.”


But we do appreciate that the authors consider Canada’s young pro-life leaders to be “camera-ready spokespeople – twentysomethings who seem more like news anchors than activists”.  (It’s nice to know we have a future in broadcasting after we end abortion.)  There were even some complimentary remarks about NCLN as ‘polished’ and ‘media-savvy’.  That said, we have no idea what or how NCLN, as they allege, “encourages members to collectively blog their outrage when conflicts arise.”

 You can read the full article here (and collectively blog your reactions thereafter?).



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What Happened to Motion 408 and Why it Matters: A Summary

What Happened to Motion 408, Why It Matters,

and What it Means for the Abortion Debate in Federal Politics

  By Rebecca Richmond


Although  Motion 408 wrapped up in the spring and we are approaching fall, people are still curious about the fate of the motion.  I make this mostly unsubstantiated assertion based on the fact that it still comes up in conversation.  

 This interest is heartening because regardless of whether your interest in Canadian politics tends towards compulsively checking Twitter feeds, reading Hansard and watching CPAC or whether it tends to be more limited (and you have no idea what Hansard or CPAC is), the fact remains that what happened this spring with Motion 408 was important.  But, surrounded by parliamentary procedure and committees, not to mention the question of privilege and the Liberal motion concerning S.O. 31s, it can be a bit confusing.   Even friends and colleagues who had followed the issue to a certain extent were asking for explanations. 

 I looked for a summary of the situation and, not finding one, began to write.  What was originally intended to be a simple blog post turned into a series of posts and then was never posted at all.  I decided that it was too late and retired the document to a folder of drafts.

 But people continued asking about it and, so, upon request, it was emailed to a few friends.  More requests resulted in it being made more public.  So enjoy!

To open the article, click here.


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#Brochoice and The Bro Code: It’s a Wonder They Ever Met ‘the Mother’

Have you heard of brochoice?  Ben Sherman recently explained their philosophy as he rallied men to protest a bill in Texas that protects women and preborn children.  NCLN’s Rebecca Richmond responds in the blog piece below.

By Rebecca Richmond

Ben Sherman has come under fire for saying what countless people have been thinking.  If people are surprised, it is only because they are surprised someone had the gall to say such things out loud.  So I would actually like to thank the bro for his refreshing honesty. 

Photo credit: Students for Life of America
Photo credit: Students for Life of America

He saw the blue shirts closing in on the Texas Capitol; he knew that HB2 posed a challenge to abortion on demand in his state; and he, apparently, thought to himself: “challenge accepted”.

He called his fellow Texas men to action because,

Your sex life is at stake. Can you think of anything that kills the vibe faster than a woman fearing a back-alley abortion? Making abortion essentially inaccessible in Texas will add an anxiety to sex that will drastically undercut its joys. And don’t be surprised if casual sex outside of relationships becomes far more difficult to come by.”

In other words: rise up, men of Texas, to protect your vibe-y, anxiety-free, casual sex outside of relationships!  

#Brochoice might end up trending on Twitter but it’s not novel at all. So excuse me while I pull out my ‘Intervention Banner’ and address the reality of the situation.

First, Mr. Sherman did get something right.  He admitted that “those pregnancies didn’t happen all on their own.”  He understands that, should a woman not decide to abort his preborn child, he would have responsibilities.

But then he actually tries to claim that this bill would endanger Texas women.  True story.  Please explain to me how applying safety standards normal for other out-patient surgical centres to clinics offering abortions (a.k.a. invasive surgical procedures) is contrary to women’s health and well being?

And then there’s the issue of late-term abortions on pain-capable preborn children.  Maybe he doesn’t realize that the majority of Texas women oppose late-term abortion and, in fact, that late-term abortions are quite risky for women.

No, the point of the brochoice argument obviously doesn’t have anything to do with the well being of women.  It rests on a man’s desire to maintain abortion on demand to ensure that men can have an active sex life without the risk of diaper duty.

The term brochoice might be relatively recent, but we’re all very familiar with the concept.  The thing is, although the rest of society tiptoes around the connection to abortion, Ben was just stating what is made out to be the ‘norm’.  Look at our TV shows, our movies and our books.  Look at How I Met Your Mother, the sitcom entering its 9th season which boasts an average viewership of 9 million each year. 

And that viewership includes, I’m sure, many of us that find brochoice despicable.  I’ve known many men I hold in high esteem – who would never ever live that kind of lifestyle – make light of The Bro Code, the guide to help men accomplish perhaps the most important challenge society faces – getting laid.” And Barney Stinson, that playboy character who lives by the code?  Everyone thinks he’s hilarious.


But what is The Bro Code other than cheap tricks to ‘bang chicks’?  And who is Barney Stinson other than a horny womanizer?

But we laugh at it.  We normalize it.  We might not live that kind of lifestyle ourselves, but we almost don’t expect society to know any better. 

Let’s call a spade a spade. 

Women deserve better than brochoice.  But guess what, men deserve better than brochoice too.  Men deserve to grow up with fathers.  Men deserve to be loved and protected by their fathers at all stages of development, and not sacrificed on the altar of their dear dad’s sex life.  Men deserve to have real meaningful relationships with women.  And men deserve to have role models that are not Barney Stinson or any other fictional playboy

Because it’s a wonder that Ted, the main character of How I Met Your Mother, actually finds the mother.  The show, despite the title, has never been about the mother, but rather about the glorified culture of sex without consequences.  The show might not have involved abortion, but we all know that it’s part and parcel of a lifestyle that requires abortion on demand.

But pro-life men, on the other hand, are – or ought to be – the role models.  In their families, in their workplaces, on the streets or on campus, pro-life men present a very different model with their willingness to stand up for life, to endure the abuse of angry passersby, and to sacrifice their time, their talents and their reputations in order to protect women and children.

So brochoice men, keep it in your pants.  If you want to show the world that you have balls, then take off the orange shirts and #stand4life in true blue.


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