University of Toronto Students for Life: The beginning of life isn’t controversial

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by Blaise Alleyne. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

It’s not controversial when life begins. Except for when we start talking about abortion, then people want to pretend it’s above their pay grade.

I just came across this little snippet from the Globe about an institute at U of T that I think serves to highlight that:

If you were going to try and solve the riddle of childhood obesity, who would you call? Doctors, geneticists, teachers or social workers? Why not all of them? That’s the premise behind a new research institute at the University of Toronto that will be delving into the potential – and the pitfalls – of early childhood health and well-being.

The Fraser Mustard Institute for Human Development, named for the late advocate of early childhood development, pulls together researchers from a wide range of fields under a virtual umbrella to tackle a wide range of issues. They’ll team up on research and teaching that focuses on the first 2,000 days of a child’s life – from conception to age five – in the hopes of pinpointing ways to set children on positive life trajectories.

If you’re doing real science and you have to look to the beginning of life, would you turn to birth? To the ability to feel pain? To consciousness or sentience? To a sperm or egg cell? Obviously, just like the Fraser Mustard Institute, you’d look to the real beginning of life: conception.

The beginning of life is a fact. That fact is only becomes controversial insofar as it’s inconvenient — when you are trying to justify killing through abortion.

Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.

University of Toronto Students for Life: #LifeWeek2015: Recap

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by ctimperley. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

#LifeWeek2015 has officially come to a close and we are blown away by the success of each and every event!

Let’s take a look back at the successes of the past week:

On Monday, we began #LifeWeek2015 with a lecture by Dr. Calhoun of West Virginia University. His talk, titled “The Fetus As Our Patient: Therapeutic Advances in Prenatal Diagnosis and Therapy” explored how previously lethal diagnoses can now be treated in utero. Dr. Calhoun’s lecture served to open the audience’s mind to the idea of the pre-born child not simply as a part of the mother, but as a patient on his or her own.

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#LifeWeek2015 continued into Tuesday evening with our panel discussion about Services for Pregnant Women and Common Ground Between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Groups. The panel featured advocates from both sides of the debate and overall, suggested a desire to help women who find themselves in trying circumstances.

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On Wednesday, we continued our raising awareness about the pro-life movement in the lobby of the Medical Sciences Building with Q&A for a Cookie. With a bowl of questions on one side of the table and packages of cookies on the other, we invited passerby to pick a question, discuss it with us, and earn a cookie in the process. With questions ranging from topics about abortion laws in Canada – or the lack thereof – to services for women in crisis pregnancies, our team dialogued with the University of Toronto community, many of whom became illuminated through this activity to the availability of resources for women in these situations and the need to reconsider for themselves the definition of personhood – all while munching on some cookies!

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On Thursday, #LifeWeek2015 put the pro-life and pro-choice movements in contrast with a debate titled “Abortion: Human Right or Human Rights Violation?”. Featuring Maaike Rosendal of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform and University of Toronto Philosophy Professor Wayne Sumner, the debate showcased both the differences and similarities between each side of the argument, primarily the criteria for human rights and, connecting to our first lecture, the treatment of situations with a pregnant woman as consisting of one patient, the mother, or two, extending to include the pre-born child.

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#LifeWeek2015 concluded on Friday with our regular volunteering at Aid to Women, a prominent crisis pregnancy centre in the city.

Thank you to all who helped us out with the organization and execution of #LifeWeek2015, as well as all those who came out and participated in these events!

We hope that this past week served to affect change in the hearts and minds of the University of Toronto community. As a result of #LifeWeek2015, we hope that you, too, have been inspired to join us in our mission to protect and defend all human life, from conception to natural death.

To be informed regularly about UTSFL’s events and activities, subscribe to our email list on the sidebar of this page!

For more updates, don’t forget to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.

University of Toronto Students for Life: Panel: Services for Pregnant Women and Common Ground Between Pro-Choice and Pro-Life Groups

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by ctimperley. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.


Can the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice movements find common ground?

On Tuesday, March 10th from 6-7:30pm in Room 2118 of Sidney Smith Hall, participate in the second event of #LifeWeek2015 and see for yourself!

Join us for a panel discussion featuring advocates from both sides who will discuss issues like caring for pregnant women and the background circumstances that lead to abortion.

•Enza Rattenni
•Nick Van der Graaf
•Ness Fraser
•The Sisters of Life

For more information, check out our Facebook event page!

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our official calendar for more details and live updates about #LifeWeek2015!

Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.

Go Life: U of A Campus Pro-Life: Still Alive, We Promise

This post was written for Go Life: U of A Campus Pro-Life by campusprolife. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Hey! So, it turns out that we’re rather bad for neglecting this website. Sorry about that. However, we are still very much alive and active, and we do send out update emails and event/meeting notices on a regular basis! If you want to keep up to date with us, you can:

1.) email us at prolife.ualberta@gmail.com and ask to be added to our mailing list.

2.) join our Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ualbertaprolife/ (p.s. this is currently the most reliable way to stay up to date)


3.) follow us on Twitter @UAlbertaProLife

Hopefully this clears up some issues!

– Amberlee

Read the comments at the Go Life: U of A Campus Pro-Life website.

University of Toronto Students for Life: Debate: Abortion: A Human Right or Human Rights Violation?

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by ctimperley. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.



Join us Thursday, March 12th from 6:30-8:30pm in Room 1101 of Sandford Fleming for a debate featuring Maaike Rosendal of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform and Professor Wayner Sumner of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.

Part of #LifeWeek2015!

For more information and to RSVP, check out our Facebook event page.

For more updates about #LifeWeek2015, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our calendar.


Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.

University of Toronto Students for Life: Talk: Fetal Surgery and High-Risk Pregnancy

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by ctimperley. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.



On Monday, March 9, the University of Toronto Students for Life will host a public lecture with Dr. Calhoun of West Virginia University.

Located in Room 119 of the Galbraith Building, the talk, the first event of #LifeWeek2015, will take place from 12-1pm and will explore how recent scientific advances enable doctors to treat previously lethal diagnoses in the womb.

The talk will also include a free lunch.

For more information, visit our Facebook event page.

To get the latest updates about #LifeWeek2015 and other events, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our calendar.

Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.

U of G Life Choice: “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” A Perceptual Controversy (not about a dress)

This post was written for U of G Life Choice by alexsibiga. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

There are a couple of experiences that I’m fairly certain I’ll never have in my life. For instance, I’m fairly certain I’ll never go to Utah, or eat pickled eggs, or try bog snorkelling. Not to say those experiences are bad…I’m sure they’re all great, but I will probably never try them.

Another thing I thought I’d never do was the very thing I spent my whole reading week doing…

I spent my reading week using abortion victim photography to talk to people about abortion. 

Yeah, I still can’t really believe I did that. 

Using abortion victim photography as a method of changing people’s minds about abortion was something I knew people did, but I used to think it was an overall a bad idea. I thought it was too in-your-face, and I thought it’d make more people angry than change minds. Don’t get me wrong, I was all about ending abortion, but my idea of an effective method was to: (a) be kind to people, (b) address the topic of abortion with pro-choicers only when it came up (which as you can imagine was almost never), and (c) hope to somehow passively change everyone’s mind about the issue! Believe it or not, in the several years I’ve considered myself pro-life, this tactic hasn’t gotten me very far. 

Last September was the first time I heard someone talk about using abortion victim photography and the incredible effect they’d seen. I was definitely surprised and amazed to hear countless stories about people actually changing their minds after seeing the images and having a conversation. Hearing her story made me change MY mind, in the sense that I saw that this method did work. But I was still convinced I would never do it myself.

After that September though, I couldn’t silence a little voice in my head that chanted, “Do it, do it, Alex, you should do it.” Eventually I gave in to that adament voice, and there I was, off to Orlando, Florida to spend a week in front of a huge display of very sad abortion victim photography asking passersby what they thought about abortion.


A conversation with a girl who was extremely saddened from looking at our display.

That experience, which I never thought I would have, was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. I realized how necessary it is to talk to people about this, and how one image and one conversation could change someone so much. 

I had so many challenging, interesting, sometimes heated, often deep, and surprising conversations with people during those few days we spent at the University of Central Florida. The images really got people reacting and thinking. Some people saw the images and changed their minds completely about abortion, while others didn’t. Actually, one thing that surprised me was hearing just how differently some people saw the images. 

“What do you think of the display?” I would ask someone. 

“It’s fine. Those aren’t human.” 

That always caught me off guard. “Wait,” I wanted to say, “You don’t see a human in that picture? Are we looking at the same picture..?”

And you know, some of us see humans, some of us don’t. Some of us see blue and black, some of us see white and gold. How is that possible?

If you don’t understand that reference I just made, I’m super impressed that you’ve gotten away with not getting involved in the most random heated controversy on the internet, and forgive me as I pull you out from under your rock. This is what I’m talking about: 

What colours do you see?

Three days ago the world got into this ridiculously huge debate about the colour of a single dress. While half the world saw blue and black when looking at an image of this dress, the other half saw white and gold. The crazy part is that people are looking at the SAME thing! 

Now while determining the actual colour of this dress isn’t an ethical dilemma, the abortion debate IS, and one way or another, a grave injustice is going on. We all need to figure out if abortion is okay or not okay because one of two unacceptable things is currently happening:

  1. Abortion IS okay and pro-lifers are doing women a grave injustice by stealing their rights to their own bodies… OR
  2. Abortion is NOT okay and is ending the life of an innocent human being. Our nation is not only accepting this violation of human rights, but is also fully funding it through tax dollars.

Now, if the former is true, then I’m in the wrong and I’d appreciate if someone shared with me the truth. It’d be a tough pill to swallow, but hopefully I’d be honest enough with myself to admit I’m wrong and thank that someone for setting me straight.  

Yet I realized that’s why using images is so necessary- they get the conversation started. I used them to share how I see the pictures and hear how other people see the pictures, trying to get them to see that there is only one answer. Because in the case of the mysterious dress, there is in fact a right answer (the dress is actually blue and black, believe it or not…weird…) and so it is with the abortion debate. There is a right and a wrong here, and it was incredible to witness people come to see that. Many people did end up admitting, “I never saw it that way before. Abortion is wrong,” or at least, “I see where you’re coming from, I have to think about this more.”

And I know it’s not a pleasant experience, admitting being wrong, especially after being so sure of the contrary, but you know, discovering truth and admitting you’re wrong is one of those experiences that comes with being human.

So, after it all, I’m really grateful for the experience that I was so sure I would never have. It was hard but so so good. When two people look and that same thing but see something different, and that difference costs lives, that difference desperately needs to be challenged.

And we need not be afraid of that challenge. We just need to be willing to experience it.

Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.

University of Toronto Students for Life: “Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by Roman. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

How can a country fight to prevent suicide with one hand and endorse it with the other? That is the question facing Canadians after the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision striking down the total ban on physician assisted suicide. This decision comes on the heels of a concurrent shift in public support for just such a decision. This growing support for legalized euthanasia is somewhat surprising, however, in that it comes at a time during which the public is becoming increasingly sensitive towards addressing and combatting the underlying triggers for suicide in other contexts. North American society as a whole has taken important strides towards removing the stigma associated with abuse, depression and mental illness, with the aim to provide compassionate avenues out of these distressing circumstances to those who see no other option than to take their own lives. We rightfully lament suicides as tragedies and vow to change our culture so as to reach out to individuals facing the same despair and hopelessness.

And yet what is the response when those seeking a way out of their suffering are the aged, the disabled, the terminally ill? Not a rousing endorsement of a palliative care revolution, providing quality pain relief and compassionate care to the suffering. Nor is it an army of friends or volunteers looking to provide comfort, empathy and a reversal of spirits for those whose anguish is magnified by isolation and a feeling of abandonment. Instead we suggest that the most merciful approach is to help them pull the metaphorical trigger; to remove the sufferer, rather than the suffering.

There are many possible reasons for this differential approach, and I hesitate to postulate on the most likely cause. What is clear, though, is that a certain cognitive dissonance is present in our attitudes towards the dignity of the human person, treating some deaths as tragedies and others as acts of mercy.

From a policy standpoint, these incongruous attitudes can interplay in two main ways. On the one hand, the cognitive dissonance can be maintained, remaining unexamined and under the radar. In such a case, the interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling can remain strict and narrow. From a pragmatic standpoint this could be seen as a (relatively) positive outcome for opponents of euthanasia in that it will keep the number of cases low. However, looking beneath the surface of such a policy one can find very troubling philosophical implications. In this circumstance, the underlying logic is that people become arbiters of the value of individual human lives, something which is incompatible with the ideals of liberal democracy but which is an attitude that has become increasingly prevalent in recent decades. In setting up a framework for the application of euthanasia, politicians, physicians, family members and citizens make decisions over what deaths are acceptable to expedite and which ones are not. They thus send a clear message to those individuals not fortunate enough to receive support and compassion which targets their symptoms that their state of life is one not worth ameliorating, but rather extinguishing.

The other possibility is that we will slowly begin to reject the arbitrariness of such an approach and simply do away with euthanasia regulations. Invoking such slippery-slope argument is often ridiculed as specious. However, in the context of legalized euthanasia, it is an argument which is vindicated by precedent. In Belgium, the legal right to assisted suicide has been extended to children. In the Netherlands, euthanasia has become an established medical option which is in many cases applied without explicit consent from patients. It is entirely plausible that such a similar erosion of regulation can occur in Canada, not simply because of a pattern but due to the underlying value shift that accompanies such a profound social and political decision. Once a society clears the moral hurdle associated with legitimizing and normalizing euthanasia, it becomes increasingly difficult to regulate the practice because any efforts to do so become arbitrary. If it becomes acceptable to sanction and facilitate the taking of a human life on request, how can any third party have the moral authority to serve as an arbiter of when such a request should or should not be honoured?

None of this is to suggest that euthanasia is only to be avoided because of the difficulties surrounding its implementation. While such a consequentialist argument plays an important part in creating an informed public debate on the issue, the pro-life movement’s opposition to physician assisted suicide does not hinge on any specific regulatory dilemmas. As has already been explored in a previous paragraph, the legalization of euthanasia is ethically objectionable regardless of how strict or loose the regulatory framework is, because in either case the inviolable sanctity of human life is being undermined.

The only ethical solution to this dilemma is to maintain an unwavering opposition to the devaluation of human life in whatever form it takes. This may not be easy or politically palatable, but such has been true of many of the most important social justice movements of our history. In short, the solution to suicide is not to help someone pull the trigger. The solution is to take the gun away, and in its place put a hand of solidarity, love and compassion.

Read the comments at the University of Toronto Students for Life website.