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Thank You Kathleen!

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

2016-11-18-thank-you-kathleen

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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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.

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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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Abortion Victim Photography: A Justifiable Defence of the Preborn?

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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

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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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The Pro-Life Student Life: #PokemonStyle


By Clarissa Canaria, Operations Director

Whether you love it or hate it, Pokemon has come back in big way with Pokemon Go. I haven’t caught the fever, but as a fan of the original series, I present to you the pro-life student life, #PokemonStyle!

Inviting people to the first pro-life club meeting of the year with this incentive:

Source: Tumblr

FOOD IS GOOD.

 

Registering for the NCLN Symposium because of this realization:

Source: Bustle

The feeling of meeting fellow pro-lifers there, knowing you’re in this battle together:

Source: Mashable

…and leaving the Symposium, encouraged and determined:

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Source: Bustle

“I GOT THIS, GUYS.”

 

When you’re up late at night pondering the injustice of abortion:

Source: Tumblr

 

How you’re feeling after a long day of class:

Source: Tumblr

But knowing you’re scheduled to do the QA Project on campus with your outreach team:

Source: Bustle

When you and your club members have amazing conversations on abortion and change someone’s mind:

Source: Bustle

Yay! High fives all around!

 

A couple of hiccups when planning that club social…:

Source: RiceDigital

 

…and your excitement in remembering to take a group photo!

Source: Mashable

Watch your step!

 

Maintaining your joy, avoiding burnout and fatigue:

Source: Bustle

 

Having some of the best people on your side to lean on for support, seeing all the destruction abortion brings:

Source: Mashable

 

When you see babies, on- or off-campus:

Source: Fanpop

BABIES ANYWHERE. <3

 

What NCLN staff look like hearing about the amazing things you’re doing on campus:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/173365-12-gifs-only-truly-obsessed-pokemon-go-fans-will-understand
Source: Bustle

We’re here for you!

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Your First Club Meeting: Helpful Tips!

So your club has recruited a bunch of new members at your opening Clubs Fair—great! But how do you keep those new recruits, and how do you activate your new members to become fearless pro-life advocates? This is where your club’s first meeting plays a crucial role. You want to inspire the students attending to commit to the club – not simply to commit to the pro-life cause, but specifically to the club’s mission to bring the pro-life message to your campus. You also want to help them feel a sense of belonging with the club so that they come back! Here are our tips on running a stellar first meeting so that those new recruits will be eager to get involved.

1. PROMOTE!

    • Promote your opening event like crazy at your school’s Clubs Fair! Hand out mini event-flyers with all the info. When you are following up with students you spoke to at your club booth, remember to personally invite them to the opening meeting!
    • Personally invite friends, and send them reminders via text or Facebook message!
    • Invite clubs that may be sympathetic. The members of different religious clubs, or human-rights-based clubs, may very well be pro-life!
    • Put up posters around campus. You can advertise the meeting as something like, “Get to know your pro-life club, and find out how you can get active in saving the lives of the pre-born.”

2. PREPARE!

    • Students LOVE free food. Have some snacks out for people to grab when they come in, or consider ordering a meal such as pizza if it’s within your club’s budget. Remember to advertise the free food in your promotion to entice those hungry students!
    • Play some fun music as a great way to break the ice (and avoid awkward silences…) Check out our playlist of upbeat music with a positive message—perfect for your first meeting.
    • Have an info table with club resources, and encourage new members to take a resource.

3. RUN IT!

    • Hospitality is key! Instruct –and remind – the club leaders to really focus on the new members. At the beginning, you and the other exec members should be going out of your way to chat to all the students who come—make sure everyone feels welcomed! It is primarily through forging these personal relationships that you will be able to motivate new students to get active.
    • The president or another exec member should do a brief introduction on the club: who you are, why your club exists, and how students can get involved.
    • Help people get to know each other by running a fun icebreaker. For instance, you can ask all the students to share their name, their area of study, why they’re pro-life, and when they were 5 what they wanted to be when they grew up.
    • You might also want to get some discussion going by playing a short video, then inviting club members to share their thoughts. Some of our favourites are the CCBR’s educational videos, the story of Eliot Mooney in 99 Balloons (be prepared to cry though), and Signal Hill’s Cause and Effect video.
    • Most importantly, give students opportunities to get involved! 
      • Have 1 or 2 activities planned for the remainder of the semester, and really encourage students to get involved! This shows that you’re organized and have a plan as a club, and it gives the students ownership of the cause, showing them they are needed and can make a difference in saving lives.
      • You can invite them to sign up for helping with tabling, postering, or the QA project (and let them know that they’ll be paired up with other experienced club members). For example, let all the new members know that your club will be doing pro-life chalking the following week, and you’d love their help!
      • Don’t forget to let students know the time and location of your weekly meetings!
    • Incorporate some social time at the end for students to mingle, chat, and munch on some snacks.

4. FOLLOW UP!

    • You and your exec members should send a follow-up message to new members, thanking them for coming and inviting them to your next event. They’ll appreciate that you remembered them and took the time to contact them!
    • If club members signed up for anything, be sure to add their names to your email list (or FB group, etc.) and follow up with them on how they’d like to get involved.
    • Finally, let NCLN know how your event went, and how we can help you in your future events!

We hope these tips help you have an awesome first meeting, as the start to an awesome year!

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