National Campus Life Network > Blog > NCLN Blog > It’s the Message, not the Method

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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