National Campus Life Network > Blog > Articles by: western

Shifting Identities and Challenging Consciences

By Josh MacMillan, NCLN Campus Coordinator

On October 20th I was present at a Flag Display organized by Laurier LifeLink. Despite the cold, rainy weather, by early morning 10,000 blue and pink flags, each representing 10 abortions, were planted in the Quad, a grassy square in the centre of campus. The question was posed: “What do you think about 100,000 abortions occurring every year in Canada?”

By mid-afternoon, we had an answer. A mob of students converged on the display, uprooting it, many claiming the display was shaming women, spreading hate speech, using ‘shock’ tactics, not welcome on university campuses, and/or just plain wrong to do. Regardless of their specific justification for their actions, the common sentiment was this: they wanted to protect the women on campus from experiencing trauma due to seeing this display.

This makes sense. No one in their right mind – pro-life or pro-choice – wants to see another human being suffer. When we see harm being done to another, we take action.

In the case of abortion, then, what action must we as pro-lifers take?

Paul Swope, author of Abortion: A Failure to Communicate, recognizes that pro-lifers care deeply about the lives of the pre-born. However, this does not mean that those in favour of access to abortion do not. An unplanned pregnancy inherently changes the identities of the people involved. She becomes a mother. He becomes a father. And that change can be difficult to handle as it alters the current identity a person has of themselves.

shifitng-identities

He continues to explain that abortion supporters look at an unplanned pregnancy as having one of three undesirable outcomes for the woman: motherhood, adoption, and abortion. Motherhood is undesirable because she might have other plans, such as education and a career. Adoption is dangerous because abandoning her child labels her as a ‘bad’ mother in society; it is also uncertain because the child may one day come looking for her, which may be difficult to face. The last outcome, abortion, by its very nature is an undesirable decision. But due to the gravity of the other options, it becomes a necessary “one of self-preservation … to the woman deciding to abort and to those supporting her decision.”

The pro-choice students who tore up the Flag Display were likely acting in the defence of the women on campus who made the choice to have an abortion. Consistent with Swope’s points, they likely see some students – or themselves – as having to make a hard, undesirable, but justified, decision.

With this understanding of the actions of those against us, Swope suggests that the pro-life movement should, when doing outreach, focus on pro-motherhood campaigns, as “[t]he pro-life movement’s own self-chosen slogans and educational presentations have tended to… focus almost exclusively on the unborn child, not the mother. This tends to build resentment, not sympathy, particularly among women of child-bearing age.” While he is right to criticize the pro-life movement when it does not address the issues surrounding an unplanned pregnancy, it cannot only be pro-motherhood, especially on campus. Focusing solely on pro-motherhood campaigns does nothing to challenge the notion of a ‘choice’ for the demographic most vulnerable to abortion – university- and college-aged women. We can and must offer women better choices, but failing to reveal the harm that one choice will cause to another human being does not challenge the consciences of our peers.

So how do we strike the right balance in showing we are pro-woman and pro-child?

Every outreach event the Pro-Life Student Movement does must have pro-motherhood and post-abortive healing resources available. We must also be better prepared to look into the eyes of our peers with their hurts and heart-breaking experiences and say, “I’m so sorry you are going through this… Can I put you in touch with someone who can help?”  This means integrating into all our discussions about the reality of abortion, the message of hope and healing, and making it as clear as possible that we want to help heal the brokenness on our campuses. We should always evaluate the ways we may have not communicated the pro-life message with love, and determine how we can do better. In doing this, we will be more able to affirm women in their identity, an identity that can include themselves as mothers, and challenge them to make the tough decision to defend the life of a human being – possibly their own child.

But even the hardest of truths said with love still hurts. We will be resented for standing up for the preborn, and we will experience backlash, just like we experienced at the flag display. We mustn’t fear sharing the truth and concern ourselves with preserving the pro-life image in order, as Swope states, to “regain the moral high ground in the mind of the… public…” It is the truth that will challenge consciences and, spoken with love, will open the door to dispelling the myths of abortion being a justified decision.

Share Button

Abortion Victim Photography: A Justifiable Defence of the Preborn?

abortion-photography-image_2

By Josh MacMillan, NCLN Campus Coordinator

“You’re disgusting!”
“How could you be showing such a thing!”
“F*** you!”

Our NCLN staff and students are not unfamiliar with these words as pro-life students across the country use abortion victim photography in their outreach on campus. I was at a recent ‘Choice’ Chain at Ryerson University during which pro-abortion protestors tried to cover up the images we were showing. The frustration the protesters expressed was palpable and real.

It isn’t hard to understand why people are so angry, and I certainly agree that these images are gross, disturbing, and hard to stomach.

The images we show during ‘Choice’ Chain, the truths that we are exposing, are disturbing to the greatest extent. But what is also disturbing is that as a society we are largely complicit in allowing this act to continue. It is these facts that cause many to recoil in anger and disgust.

One doesn’t want to believe that we have allowed this to continue. We would prefer to be uninformed. Or less informed, for that matter. We are told that it would be better if we simply didn’t use the images and used only words instead, because the images are simply too much to bear.

But are they too much to show? I have struggled with this question for years.

And after thinking about it, and taking part in events that use abortion victim photography, I have my answer: no, it is not too much to show. The images reveal the truth about abortion. The images are horrible and disgusting because abortion is horrible and disgusting.

It is a truth that we would rather not see, but it is in seeing abortion’s reality that we can clearly understand the toll abortion takes on innocent human lives. And I have personally witnessed people who have changed their hearts and minds and saved lives because they have seen this reality.

As a society, we value freedom. We value the ability to make an informed choice about the actions we take. We become angry when we are duped into buying into something that isn’t true. To make free choices, we want all of the information.

When we consider what abortion is, we need the facts. And the facts aren’t pretty.

I don’t fear showing the images, because I am showing the results of a choice. We all need to confront the reality of that choice, regardless of how uncomfortable it makes us. If we’re okay with abortion, we should not be so upset by these images. If we aren’t comfortable with what we see, maybe we need to reconsider if we agree with the act being shown. If abortion is a human rights violation, our discomfort is nothing compared to the injustice of abortion.

These images are the only cry for help that the unborn have to utter for themselves. These are the facts of their lives. With this information we can make a free and informed choice. Will we continue to tolerate this inhumane killing of innocent human beings, or will we reject it?

Yes, the images of aborted babies are disgusting. But the day these cease to be disturbing, the day we choose to ignore the facts about abortion and the reality of what it does to preborn humans, will be a sad day indeed for our country.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” – William Wilberforce

Share Button

Giving Thanks for Lives Saved

In mid-March, the pro-life club at the University of Saskatchewan hosted a pregnancy support table every day for one week. It was deliberately held one week before the university’s so-called “Pro-Choice Awareness Week.” Not only was the club a life-affirming witness on campus, but their efforts reverberated in the community. During the week, the pro-life team reached out to over 300 students: some had friends who were hurting either after abortion or a miscarriage, 1 was looking to adopt, and 3 were abortion-minded women who thought they were pregnant.

Club members were able to take one of these women to a pregnancy centre, where it was confirmed she was not pregnant. Throughout the journey she felt supported, and began to open up.

Then she told the club about “Anne.”

Anne was a friend of hers. Anne was pregnant, her baby 3 months old at the time. Anne was scheduled for an abortion the following week.

It was March 17th when one club member, Denae, became part of Anne’s story, asking friends, and friends of friends for prayer. Hundreds of people were praying for Anne and her baby. 

On March 21st Denae met Anne, planning to offer to care for the baby if Anne didn’t want to. However, upon meeting Denae, Anne shared that she had woken up on March 18th, and for no explicable reason had changed her mind about abortion.

Denae has encouraged and supported Anne throughout her pregnancy, helping her find a midwife, baby supplies, a local support program

On September 13th a little baby boy entered the world because of the club’s and Denae’s support. 

giving-thanks

Our NCLN staff are incredibly grateful for the self-sacrificing work of all our pro-life university students. There are many people this Thanksgiving who have even more to be thankful for because of your life-saving efforts. Thank you.
Share Button

Students at Brandon University Sue their Student Union after Club Banned from Campus

 

Brandon, MB: Pro-life students at Brandon University have filed a lawsuit after having their club status withdrawn by their student union in November without warning. The Brandon University Student Union alleged that the pro-life stance made some students feel “uncomfortable” and “intimidated” them. The union also argued that the club’s beliefs were contrary to the Canadian Federation of Students’ official pro-choice stance, and that the club itself was redundant because other campus groups (the LGBTQ Collective and the Women’s Collective) addressed the issue of abortion.

The club is not unfamiliar with censorship, as this is not the first time they have had to resort to legal aid in order to regain their official club status. “Our student union claims to serve students and support them in their efforts to share their passions and advocate for various causes,” states Catherine Dubois, president of Brandon University Students for Life, “However, over the past 4 years our club has been repeatedly censored and denied these opportunities offered to every other student. We are tired and frustrated with being treated in such a discriminatory manner.”

“It is unacceptable that a student on a university campus should have to resort to a court challenge to ensure they can enjoy the same freedoms as their peers on campus,” states Anastasia Pearse, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, an organization dedicated to supporting post-secondary pro-life students, “It is disconcerting that campuses in our country are choosing to censor controversial issues rather than allow for open dialogue and debate.”

Currently, four other lawsuits initiated by pro-life student clubs are working their way through courts across the country. This is the highest number of lawsuits regarding campus free speech issues to be filed by pro-life clubs within a one-year period. The other universities include Ryerson University, the University of Toronto Mississauga, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and the University of Alberta.

“Abortion is an issue that personally affects women of the university age,” states Pearse, “we believe that women deserve to know everything about this procedure, even if the information makes people feel uncomfortable. Universities should not be afraid to accommodate opposing views on important and even controversial issues. With over 250 abortions occurring every day in Canada, this is a conversation that students ought to be having.”

For further information:

Anastasia Pearse
Executive Director, National Campus Life Network
director@ncln.ca
604-365-3484

Catherine Dubois, Brandon University Students for Life
204-570-1710 or duboiscm52@brandonu.ca

–33–


2015 Fall Brandon Chalking_4

Share Button

Strong Without Leave

On Finding Your Voice in the Pro-Life Movement

By: Chad Hagel, NCLN Intern

In a recent conversation with a well-trusted advisor, we spoke about my positive qualities. One of these qualities was my strength of character; he emphasized that “it was something which set me apart from [other people] my age” and a quality that provided me with confidence. He explained that “strength of character” means not giving up and sticking to your beliefs. After the conversation, I took some time to look at how I showcased my strength of character in my daily life, noting with particular attention my journey in finding my voice in the pro-life movement.

Strength of character is essential to the pro-life movement, particularly if we want to be seen as leaders. Everything else comes from strength of character: passion, motivation and commitment to your cause. You can’t be a leader if you don’t have a small measure of confidence in yourself and aren’t afraid to speak up for what you believe. This carries an added weight in the pro-life movement, as we are committed to providing a voice for the voiceless.

Strength of character is something which everyone can grow in – it’s not something you’re just born with.

Speaking for myself, when I first became active in the pro-life movement, I didn’t have a whole lot of confidence. I could hardly approach a complete stranger during the QA Project and ask them about something I saw to be a controversial issue. When I stood outside buildings on campus, my voice would fade away, and I would be extremely hesitant to approach someone and talk to them.

Over the past couple years, though, this has changed. Although I still have times where I struggle with coming out of my shell (I am an introvert), I am increasingly unhesitant to share the truth about abortion when reaching out to both complete strangers and close friends.

How did I get to this point?

That’s what I would like to emphasize: how to build strength of character in the pro-life movement. That small bit of life-saving confidence. Here are some ideas:

  1. Attend pro-life apologetics training, either for yourself or with your club. This can be facilitated by contacting NCLN or another pro-life organization within Canada, such as the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR). I particularly recommend coming to NCLN’s Symposium in September!
  2. Get experience. If you have a pro-life club on your campus, great! Join it! Even though not all clubs have activism, all clubs need new people to bring spunk and vision to the organization and make sure the message never dies. You can implement NCLN’s QA Project on your campus, as well as look into introducing CCBR’s “Choice” Chain into your activism. Work alongsidethe local Right to Life groups in your area, if you are lucky to have them.
  3. Build relationships with like-minded organizations. Even if you don’t have a pro-life group on campus yet, there are plenty of opportunities to add your voice to the pro-life cause this summer and year-round. Your local Right to Life group is often the best place to begin and might be able to connect you with other pro-life groups. 40 Days for Life, enlisting the services of those in the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, and participating in CCBR’s “Choice” Chains are also brilliant ways to begin saving lives in the wider community.

Whatever words emerge as your pro-life voice, what’s important is that you take these words to heart.

You become what you embody. You become a leader. You develop strength of character, as you build up confidence in yourself and your message.

It will not be easy. But, as all of us at NCLN can testify, confidence comes with experience and a belief that you indeed have something of value to share, persevering in the face of tragedy and adversity. You can become strong without leave, and lead our world as the leaders of tomorrow, speaking as you do for the ones who cannot speak for themselves.

Share Button

Introducing NCLN Summer Intern, Chad Hagel!

We are so excited to have Chad Hagel join us at NCLN this summer as an intern at our Toronto office! In the fall, Chad will begin his fourth year of his undergraduate degree at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM). He plans to pursue a Masters of Arts in Scottish History after completing his undergraduate studies in History and Classics. He is passionate about Ian Rankin, science fiction films, tea, and early medieval Scotland. When he isn’t learning about northern Britain, Chad is committed to ensure history is fondly remembered by taking an active role in ensuring that the pro-life position always has a voice.

Tell us your story and how you became pro-life.
Chad, loving life at a young age
Chad, loving life at a young age

My ‘pro-life journey’ began on Wednesday, June 1st, 1994 at 3:35 PM EST. That’s the day I was born – at just 26 weeks gestation.

The doctors didn’t think I would make it. Fortunately, I was able to pull through, though I didn’t emerge unscathed: in the span of three years, I was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and severe hearing loss.

I was also left with an indeliable mark on my psyche: I gained a profound appreciation for life at all stages of life. Being born in such dramatic circumstances, using my disabilities not as a crutch but as a stepping stone to greatness, I found it hard to stomach arguments supporting abortion or euthanasia. A child is more than the conditions they have; they are so much more and can even surprise you.

These pro-life leanings pulsed quietly within me throughout my childhood and adolescence, and didn’t have a proper outlet until I reached university.

How did you get involved with your campus pro-life club?

When I began my second year at UTM, I had been appointed as an executive for the our campus’ Catholic club, and had eagerly signed on to assist with their table at Welcome Week. As it happened, a freshly-birthed pro-life group, UTM Students for Life (UTMSFL), had set up their table next to us. I signed up, but I didn’t do anything with them until January 2015, when the Holy Spirit told me to become involved with this club. As school faded into summer, I was possessed of a further conviction of the need to have a pro-life voice on campus, and subsequently asked to be an executive. I was accepted, and took on the role of Secretary just as we were censored by our student union. A year and a lawsuit later, I am now President, and am looking to expand the club in new directions.

Why did you decide to spend a summer working with NCLN?

The past year, with its lawsuit and near-weekly activism, has led me to an insurmountable conclusion: NCLN’s work in promoting the pro-life message is crucial in ensuring that my generation isn’t the last. We are on a threshold: we literally hold the power to decide whether our children live or die, and whether they will carry the human spirit of resilience and determination that we were raised to exemplify. The campus is where this battle plays out, and I believe NCLN needs all the help it can get in changing the hearts and minds of future businessmen, lawyers and historians.

Where are you most likely to be on the weekends?

During the weekends, you can usually find me with my head buried in a book, or least deep in used bookstores hunting for the next one to add to my collection. Otherwise, you can find me watching movies in theatres or at home, or heading out to far-out cities for my next travel adventure.

If you could meet any one person in history, who would that be?

I have a fairly specific place and time I would transport myself to: Edinburgh, 1880. Sitting in a dank, dark pub with Sir Walter Scott would be a historian’s dream for me. I discuss in earnest his novels and poems as well as his perspective on the culture and languages of his time.

If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Chad, on the bottom right
Chad, on the bottom right

For me, it’s the Isle of Skye (Western Hebrides, Scotland) in the fall. Though it wouldn’t give me much of a chance to practice Scottish Gaelic or Irish, I would love to experience island life in this most legendary of isles, as well as take the chance to climb a hill or two. I would also love to see the Old Man of Storr in person, as I’ve heard so much about it!

Send Chad a welcome message! Info@ncln.ca

Share Button

On the Shoulders of Giants

We are thrilled to once again introduce our returning intern, Christine! Having served as an NCLN intern and as President of Queen’s Alive, the pro-life club at Queen’s University in Ontario, many of you can attest to her gift of leadership and her big heart. She has done amazing work with us and on her campus: saving lives through outreach, building a strong pro-life team, and assisting with NCLN project development.

A recent graduate, what’s next for this talented young woman? On the blog this week, check out Christine’s reflections on why she has joined our team as an intern again this summer.

DSC_0133

On the Shoulders of Giants: reflections of a returning intern

By Christine Helferty, NCLN Communications and Research Intern

In my first year of university, I was thrilled to finally have the opportunity to make a difference in the pro-life movement. I started outreach with Queen’s Alive before my first week of classes, unknowingly offering a club pamphlet to someone who was already a club member… Certainly I had the enthusiasm for the job if not the experience.

In my second year, I was excited to expand my knowledge of the pro-life movement, attending the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) over my reading week and devoting time to the pro-life club student executive. During my third year, I took on the role of club President, and I couldn’t wait to start implementing new ideas such as weekly activism. My fourth year provided constant reminders that there were still many ways for our club to improve to get the results we wanted.

Now that I have done four years with Queen’s Alive, I think I am finally getting the hang of running a pro-life club on campus… just when I am graduating.

This gets me thinking. Why was I trying to reinvent the wheel all those years?

Did I honestly think I was the only one in our club to dream up the idea of weekly activism, or an updated blog, or a full executive council helping to organize events, or frequent meetings? Of course I wasn’t the first to desire those things or to discover that they would make a club work. And I certainly wasn’t the first to attempt to implement these dreams.

In retrospect, I spent a lot of time on campus figuring things out that have already been figured out.

Running a pro-life club isn’t rocket science – but it sure feels like it when there’s no guidebook and you have a full course load, other extra-curricular activities, family, friends, and everything else in life to balance.

And that’s why NCLN is the organization that I want to work for again this summer. NCLN has the experience and resources that fresh university students could never have: NCLN is the guidebook. I want to be a part of making this guidebook even more thorough and accessible for pro-life leaders on campuses across Canada. I want to help students stand on the shoulders of giants in this movement, so that when they dream for their campuses, they can see far past the hills I mistook for mountains.

Share Button

Looking Like Dad

By Joanna Krawczynski, Western Campus Coordinator

Photo credit: Josh Willink (Pexels.com)
Photo credit: Josh Willink (Pexels.com)

 

When I was maybe seven years old, someone had the audacity to tell me that I had my father’s features. My little princess heart immediately took offense – you mean I look like a boy?? As I seethed, my well-meaning relatives continued to coo over how much we’ve grown.

While I have not yet completely forgiven those adults, this gives me the opportunity to reflect on what it means to look like Dad – on a deeper level than simply remarking on the bend in my nose.

Recently, I rediscovered one of my favorite videos: a compilation of mind-blowing “Dad saves,” those moments when Dad defies even gravity to rescue a kid destined for disaster (or mild bruising at least).

Hilarious. And mildly frightening. There is also an irony in these “Dad saves” that I had never noticed before: in some cases, it is Dad who causes the danger in the first place. So, in these cases, rather than depicting “Dad saves,” these are Dad-mess-ups. Yet Dad is still regarded as a hero at the end of the day.

Mistakes do not have the final word in these stories.

Neither should they in ours. The video of “Dad saves” ultimately serves as a two-fold reminder for me this weekend: first, in spite of Dad’s mess-ups, he can turn around. Secondly, in spite of our mess-ups, Dad can still catch us.

I owe Dad for some amazing saves: the times Dad stayed up with a tearful me trying to study for my Math test; the times Dad got back into the passenger’s seat despite my repeated horrendous attempts at driving; the times Dad took us hiking so that we would get lost and learn to find our way; the times Dad held Mama tight to keep her heart from falling into pieces.

The courage of a man is often portrayed in popular culture as a reckless, exploitative exercise in brute strength for a man’s own interests. However, this Sunday we are celebrating something vastly different and far greater: the selfless, life-saving courage of a loving father.

Perhaps looking like Dad isn’t so bad after all.

From all of us at NCLN, rock on Dad! Happy Fathers’ Day!

Happy Father's Day!

Share Button