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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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NCLN is hiring!

University campuses are in dire need of the pro-life message. Pro-Life students on these campuses need support and mentorship as they seek to bring this message to a hostile culture.

Are you willing to serve alongside these students as they seek to change hearts and minds?

NCLN is accepting applications for our Summer Internship Program, based out of our Langley and Toronto offices! If you’re a post-secondary student who is passionate about bringing the pro-life message to your campus and eager to grow as a leader, this opportunity is for you!

NCLN Internship details and application.

We are also hiring a new Campus Coordinator to join us in our Toronto office. If you’re interested in an exciting, challenging and fulfilling career that is dedicated to ending abortion and upholding the value of all human life, from conception to natural death, please consider the difference you could make through a position with NCLN!

Campus Coordinator details and application.

Application deadlines: March 15th.

For more information, contact Anastasia Pearse.

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Ontario Campus Tour!

Our Executive Director and Central Campus Coordinator, Anastasia & Clarissa, are in the midst of an exciting month of visiting pro-life campus clubs as well as right to life groups across Ontario! Below is their schedule for the remaining two weeks. Contact them if you’re interested in joining them in activism on campus or for their presentations!

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Visits with UTM, Durham, York and McMaster!

15 – Walkerton Right to Life, Hanover: Reaching Campuses, Changing Canada: Mobilizing a Generation of Pro-Life Leaders who are Transforming our Culture. 7:30 p.m. Hanover Public Library (451 10th Ave).
18 – University of Windsor
21 – Cornwall: St. Joseph’s High School presentation
22 – University of Ottawa
25 – Brock University/Niagara College
25 – St. Catharines Right to Life Pro-Life Coffee House. Reaching Campuses, Changing Canada: Mobilizing a Generation of Pro-Life Leaders who are Transforming our Culture. 7:00 p.m. at The Heritage Christian Bookstore Cafe (400 Scott Street, Grantham Plaza, St. Catharines)

Hope to see you there!

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Merry Christmas from NCLN!

 

Dear Friends,

 

Our staff at NCLN wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas. We are so incredibly blessed to be able to work with and for you as we support pro-life student leaders and share our life-affirming, life-saving message on university campuses. We have much to be thankful for and rejoice over as we celebrate this joyous season!
As we reflect on the meaning of the season, there is so much that affirms and encourages us in our pro-life ministry. We encourage you to take  couple minutes to read our Christmas reflection, written by our Western Campus Coordinator, Joanna.

GEARING UP FOR 2016!

 

To ensure you’re equipped to start off the new year, we have a variety of resources, campaigns, and events to help you impact your campus!

 

SPARC up your campus!

SPARC 

Our monthly SPARC outreach will continue, starting in January with a pro-life t-shirt day on January 28th (commemorating the 28th anniversary of the R. v. Mortgentaler decision that struck down all laws against abortion in Canada). Click here to download the Spring 2016 SPARC Calendar!

 

Order a Without Exception Tshirt!

 

Geared for Life T-Shirts

Check out our Geared for Life page and order a pro-life t-shirt! Wearing the t-shirt is a simple way to be a pro-life witness, and can lead to many fruitful conversations. Buy one by January 8th so you have a chance to receive it in time for our January SPARC event!

 

 

Responding to Physician Assisted Suicide in Canada

Our staff are working with LifeCanada on a campaign we can use on our campuses and in our communities to educate people about physician assisted suicide, and to move them to action as we support the vulnerable in our society. To kickstart the campaign, our NCLN Western Office will be co-hosting a workshop in Vancouver on Saturday January 30th. Stay tuned for further details.

 

QA project

The QA Project

Need more resources to fuel your QA Project activism? Visit our Geared for Life page to order cards, pins, and stickers online!

We pray you all have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for all the amazing work you’ve done to bring more light and hope into this world.

Love,

Your NCLN Team

Merry Christmas

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The Chalked Message Made Her Angry, But Then…

As a student at the University of Ottawa, Billie saw pro-life messages in chalk on her campus for the first time a couple of years ago. This is her story:

 

I used to be a radical pro-choicer

because that was my peer group and the rhetoric I heard from a young age.

 

A couple years ago, I was walking out of the cafeteria [at the University] and I saw the statistic about Down’s syndrome children being aborted. It was the first thing I saw. I saw it a couple times and tried not to think about it. After the third time, I let myself think about it and was angry. It must not be true.

I was angry at the pro-life club for chalking the messages but I didn’t know why I was angry.

I looked it up on the computer and found very official statistics that confirmed it was true. I was heartbroken because I’ve worked with special needs kids all my life – by choice. They’re already underestimated and discriminated against as it is.

Learning that fact and learning it was true was the catalyst to researching the issue more from both sides.

 

It took about 6 months before I called myself pro-life.

The more I read the more I learned I had been on the wrong side. I had to admit I was wrong.”

——————————————————————————————————————————

Billie is now involved with uOttawa Students for Life, chalking these same messages on campus. Students across Canada shared the pro-life message through the Chalktober Campus Outreach Campaign this month. Photos to come!
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Facing Smaug

Written by Joanna Krawczynski, NCLN’s Western Campus Coordinator

On dealing with dragons of fear – and making it out alive.

 

Dear pro-life students,

It’s been a solid two weeks since we gathered in Toronto for the Symposium, and I’m back home, going through your evaluations of the weekend.

Many of you wrote that the Symposium quelled your fears, that you came with “tons of uncertainties and questions.” However, you commented that you left feeling “inspired and at peace,” and that “the NCLN Symposium took away all fears… about doing pro-life activism.”

A part of me wishes we could take the credit for your freedom from fear. And while it does take some courage to “whip and nae-nae” in front of strangers, I am sure our spectacular dance moves did not have that much of a far-reaching effect…

So, dear students,  you deserve credit. This was my first Symposium on staff, and throughout the weekend, your hearts of compassion and hands ready to take action were inspiring and motivating.

You remind me of one of my favorite furry-footed heroes (and no, this has nothing to do with the aesthetics of your feet). This past summer, I finally read Tolkien’s The Hobbit. I also watched the movies, and as much as I wanted to love them, I was disappointed, for they left out one of the best parts of the book: Bilbo’s greatest moment.

This moment has nothing to do with riddles or giant spiders. This is the moment when Bilbo is going down into the heart of a mountain through a tunnel that had mysteriously opened just moments before. The dwarves with whom Bilbo had been travelling wait at the door of the tunnel, sending him off down the dark passage alone. The only thing Bilbo and his companions know about the tunnel is that, at some point, the tunnel will end. And that at the other end lies a monster – a dragon named Smaug.

Bilbo enters the tunnel alone, then:

“A sound, too, began to throb in his ears, a sort of bubbling like the noise of a large pot galloping on the fire, mixed with a rumble as of a gigantic tom-cat purring. This grew to the unmistakable gurgling noise of some vast animal snoring in its sleep down there in the red glow in front of him.

 

It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait.”

The cave / La cova (Ferran)
Photo credit: Ferran Jorda

Fear.

While I wish with all my heart you didn’t have to deal with this anymore, the fears alleviated during the Symposium will still come back, in one way or another.

Sometimes it may seem like you are venturing into a dragon’s lair as you step out to engage someone in a conversation, as you meet with your student union, or as you set up for Choice Chain amidst angry hollers.

In times such as these, chew through this question instead of your fingernails, a question with which our former Executive Director, Rebecca Richmond, would challenge us with: is what is holding me back more important than the message I have to share?

I am convinced that these moments in which you press on, despite your fears, are true tests of your courage. Like in Bilbo’s experience.

My challenge to you as you journey this semester: lean on each other, depend on each other, and keep each other accountable. As much as they get good screen time, we are not dwarves, waiting at the back door, expecting a club member to venture into dark, uncharted territory alone. Loneliness is fertile ground for fear. And, as you have probably already noticed, you cannot use fear to dispel fear or to dismantle lies.

So, then, go together. Go together, to share a treasure that is much brighter, much more valuable than Smaug’s mountain of gold: friendship. Go together in peace: you have what it takes to not only face Smaug and make it out alive, but to also rescue lives from out of the flames.

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Recap: 2015 NCLN Symposium: Without Exception

Written by Anastasia Pearse, Executive Director

Words cannot express how grateful we are to all the students who joined us over the weekend for our Annual Symposium! We are so incredibly impressed with your energy, enthusiasm, conviction, and commitment to speaking up about this injustice in our country, without exception. Wear your t-shirts with pride and keep the momentum up from the weekend! Know that your passion is contagious, and necessary in order to sustain the Pro-Life Student Movement on our campuses!

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For those who could not attend the symposium, below are some highlights from our speakers!

 

Without Exception: Anastasia Pearse
  • As pro-lifers we know that there are no exceptions when it comes to saving innocent human beings.
  • There are no exceptions when it comes to showing love to all human beings.
  • We must be willing to live a pro-life lifestyle, without exception.
  • As pro-life students on your campus you are: present, you are peers, and therefore you are powerful.
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Talking to the Victims of the Sexual Revolution: Jonathon VanMaren
  • We need to understand the culture around us to most effectively reach them with the pro-life message
  • We are talking to a culture of that sees human beings as a commodity.
  • What does pornography have to do with abortion? It perpetuates the idea that humans can be used.  Objectification of humans leads to dehumanization, which leads to victimization. We have a society whose acts have lead to commodification of the human body.
Talking to Those Who are Ignorant: Josh Canning
  • Three keys to speaking to the ignorant:
    1. Show compassion for their concerns about abortion. Usually a person’s good intentions are involved.
    2. Tell stories. It allows you to empathize together about the persons involved in the story.
    3. Ask questions – get to know their opinion and what they do know.
  • We must develop a heart that is as big as that of those we talk to, but then bigger.
Talking to Those Who are Complacent and Apathetic: Daniel Gilman
  • If we’re complacent we’re empowering a system that slaughters babies.
  • Being pro-life is not a charitable cause. It is an emergency.
  • We need to show the complacent the hope found in action.
  • Give them immediate opportunities to take action!
  • The only reason we’ve had horrific genocides is because good people are doing nothing to stop it.
Effective Conversations: How to Win Hearts and Rescue Children from Abortion: Devorah Gilman, CCBR
  • 3 Goals in pro-life conversations: understand, love & inspire.
  • We live in a society where parents are legally responsible for the ordinary care of their children. What about the preborn?
  • Truth without love is ineffective. And love without truth is a lie.
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  • Ask 4 questions to show that abortion is a human rights violation in any conversation:
    1. Do you believe in human rights? Who gets human rights?
    2. If two human beings reproduce, what will their offspring be?
    3. If something is growing, isn’t it alive?
    4. Doesn’t it logically follow that abortion is a human rights violation because it kills an innocent human?
  • In any difficult circumstance thought to justify abortion, the person you’re speaking to needs to know you care.
  • Steps to effective conversations:
    1. Find common ground.
    2. Use analogies
    3. Ask questions.
  • We must learn to show the truth rather than tell. Show, don’t tell.
Recruiting Your Team: Anastasia Pearse, NCLN
  • Successful recruitment is the result of effective outreach and sustained relationships.
  • Who are two people you can think of right now that you can make a prolife impact on?
  • Too often we focus on impacting “society”, rather than those around us. One person at a time, we can change the world.
  • Avoid the exhausting event syndrome and keep it simple! REV up your campus with Regular, Engaging and Visible activism!
Leading Yourself: Rebecca Richmond, NCLN
  • The only cure for a selfish culture is a culture of selfless individuals.
  • Is what is holding us back from doing activism more important than the message we are trying to share?
  • Your club is more than weekly meetings and activities. Your club is a movement.
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Euthanasia: The Key Issues and Argument: Fr. Kevin Belgrave, St. Augustine’s Seminary
  • The ultimate solution to euthanasia is a renewal of relationship between us and those who are suffering.
  • Euthanasia isn’t about killing pain, – doctors already do that – it’s about killing patients.
  • Euthanasia creates a “duty to die” – people feel coerced to choose to die to let their family carry on.
  • When suffering people want to die because they feel they are a burden, that is a sign that we are not doing enough to support them.
Top 10 Ways to Sustain  Yourself and  Your Team: Clay Imoo, Archdiocese of Vancouver
  • Sustaining yourself and your team is vital for long-term success, avoiding burnout, and growth
  • Give your team members some TLC: Training, Leadership, and Care.
  • Who we are communicates far more eloquently than what we say or do.
  • Ways to keep your team members: build relationships, meet regularly, know what motivates them! Let them know they are making a difference
  • Ways to keep your team members: affirm them, give them a variety of responsibilities, encourage risks, encourage them to grow.
  • Relationships are vital to your ministry. Make them a priority!
  • Clarify expectations: what do you expect from your team? What do they expect from you?
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To see more photos from the Symposium, visit our National Campus Life Network facebook page!
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Resolve to Reach Out

On butterflies, duffel bags, and the end of info tables

Written by Joanna Krawczynski

 

Okay, I’ll admit it: the idea of campus outreach, like clipboarding and tabling, does get my heart beating a faster out of excitement for these opportunities to reach my peers with the message of life.

Actually doing campus outreach… to be honest, that can get my heart beating for a different reason, racing with the cold determination of nervousness that makes me feel faint. Or nauseous. Or a combination of the two. Either way, I know I’m not the only one (feel free to sing along). However, I also know that if I do not give myself a swift kick in the pants and stop dwelling on worst-case scenarios, I will spend the rest of the afternoon hiding behind my info table or clipboard. And my campus will be poorer because of it.

Rewind a couple months.

It was my first time clipboarding – and we were downtown Vancouver. I was being ignored, misunderstood, turned away, and the courage I thought I had was steadily dwindling. Almost by accident, I walked into the conversation of two tradesmen from Quebec.Your shadows talk while you listenBoth carried grungy-looking duffel bags and wore wrinkled clothes as well as unshaven, though genuine, smiles. The eyes of the younger fellow lit up more often than his cigarette as he talked. The other fellow seemed old enough to be the father of the younger man. The older man’s deep, browned wrinkles told a part of his story that he did not seem ready to share then. His was a fatherly tone, though he was adamant that a woman should be able to abort her child if she will be unable to care for the child after birth. After about a half hour of conversation, I had to run to catch up with my clipboarding crew. But before I left the conversation, the younger fellow stopped me.

“Can I show you something?” he asked. “I want to show you a photo of my son.”

The man’s pride for this little one was unmistakable as he pulled out a school photo of his smiling seven year old, looking smart and bright-eyed. My heart just about melted. The young man shared that he was here on the other side of the country for this little guy, catching jobs to make their ends meet. I went home feeling helpless, torn between feelings of joy for the younger man’s determination to support his son, and sadness for the stubborn resolution of the older man, whose comments conveyed the perspective that children without caring parents are better off eliminated. To follow this logic is to say that it is a greater tragedy to be unwanted and alive, than to be unwanted – and killed. Fast forward about a month and a half. I’m just getting the hang of Vancouver’s transportation system, catching the skytrain home after a day of campus activism. My head is buzzing, trying to debrief the day’s conversations as well as make sure that I get on the right train. As I slide onto the train and carve out a place to stand, the smell of cigarettes makes me catch my breath. There is a pile of beaten-up bags at the feet of a fellow passenger. I lift my eyes, piecing together the baggy pants, layers of clothing, and a salt-and-pepper scruff crowning the unshaven face of a man with deep, browned wrinkles. “Bonjour, Monsieur…!” I greet the familiar face with astonishment.

His eyes wrinkle around the edges as he smiles back, “I did not think that you would recognize me.”

Of course I recognized him, though I was definitely not expecting to see this man, the older tradesman from that afternoon of clipboarding, ever again. The man shared how he was heading back to Montreal after traveling all across Canada for work. The man then paused, motioning to his bags,

“You know, I’ve been here in Vancouver, on the streets. No home or apartment. My sleeping bag is in there.”

SW 3rd Avenue
The duffel bag lay sprawled at his feet. The man glanced back at me and continued, “You know, my kids, I’ve got five of them. My kids, they are all grown up and established. I gave them all I could. Now it is time for me to live my life.”

Hold on. Where are his children now, and why don’t they seem to care that their father is living on the streets? My heart ached as this man shared the story his wrinkles betray.

How did I not see this earlier? His earlier assertion that an unwanted life is better off destroyed came from a deeply personal place, a place beaten up and worn like the baggage at his feet.

I wanted to do something to help this man, to show him his worth, but the best I could do was to learn his name, shake his hand, and wish him well, as we both had another train to catch.

Reflecting on this, I realize that we have an incredible opportunity as pro-life leaders. We have peers who also carry around with them that heavy feeling of being unwanted. Like the student who was abandoned by his father when his mother decided to give him life. Or the girl whose parents remind her daily that she is not the boy they wanted.

But how can we help our peers to see the value of their lives, if we let the butterflies in our stomachs keep us from reaching out to initiate a conversation?

Okay, granted – maybe they don’t have time for a conversation. Are we doing any harm by wishing them a good day?

Brochures and pamphlets are helpful resources to have on hand, and an info table can be an effective background tool,

but there is a reason why we work with student leaders, not printing machines.

In our activism, let us resolve to reach out and, in doing so, touch the heart of another. We have the opportunity – indeed, the responsibility – to encourage our peers to recognize the value of their own lives, to be voices declaring the profound truth that every life is wanted.

Without exception.
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