Successful Debate @ SFU

Last night, SFU Lifeline and SFU Health Ethics Club hosted a public debate on Simon Fraser University campus: “Should Abortion Be Legal“?

About 125 students and guests attended to hear Stephanie Gray, on behalf of the Canadian Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, present the pro-life position and Umer Altaf, President of the SFU Debate Society, present the pro-choice position.

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Appealing to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Stephanie claimed that abortion should be illegal, since the pre-born are human beings, and ending an innocent human being’s life would be a violation of their human right to life.

Umer based his argument on what he claimed were three logical conclusions: something receives our moral consideration in the face of termination if it can feel pain, if it will be missed by loved ones, and if they have wants and dreams that won’t be realized if their life is taken. When the pre-born can’t feel pain, will not be missed and does not have dreams to be realized, the pre-born are not worthy of our moral consideration and thus abortion should be legal.

Stephanie and Umer debated the implications of making abortion illegal, also weighing the effects that abortion and pregnancy have on women. Umer claimed that there are different levels of suffering, and abortion alleviates some of the suffering that a woman would face in a crisis pregnancy. Stephanie proposed that a civil society should certainly alleviate suffering, but not eliminate sufferers.

Students were able to ask questions during the final session of the debate, and the open discussion continued well after the debate officially ended.

Who won the debate? Stay tuned for a video of the full debate online. We’ll let you decide.

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What Commodity Culture Means To This Pro-Lifer

Clarissa Canaria, Central Campus Coordinator
 

What comes to mind when you first hear the word “commodity”?  I am sure that a wide array of products or natural resources that are bought and sold come to mind.  In any case, what should not come to mind are human beings.  Sadly, our culture reflects otherwise.

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A few weeks ago, NCLN hosted an event in Toronto called “#CommodityCulture: Rescuing our Campuses from Rape Culture, Porn & Abortion” in Toronto.  Before the evening, I had never thought about these topics together, believing that because each had their own roots and reasons, it would be a bit challenging to link them.  However, two things I heard that evening from our wonderful guest speakers stuck with me, forever cementing the interconnectedness of the topics in my mind.

“When we can objectify the person right in front of us whom we can see, we can very easily objectify the pre-born child that we cannot see.”

This point made by Jonathon Van Maren (CCBR) around the beginning of his presentation was as clear as day to me.

If the acts of rape and watching pornography are performed by persons who justify the objectification of another human being as a means to satisfy their lustful desires, then why should we expect a pre-born child, whose humanity is hidden within the womb, to be seen with any sort of dignity?  The child is merely an impediment to pleasure, and because we can pretend that it’s “not really there yet,” our own desires take precedence.

Discussing the issue of abortion with the culture would be much easier if everyone we talked to understood the concept of their value as a human being.  But this task becomes much more difficult when our culture accepts or ignores the use and abuse of so many.  It became much more obvious to me that because of the way certain born human beings are being used, the pre-born child could easily be forgotten and dismissed.  Where do we go from here, then?

“The pro-life movement is the answer to fighting commodity culture.”

I heard these words stated at the end of Daniel Gilman’s presentation and it was a concept I needed to grapple with.  I thought to myself, “Wow, that was a bold statement – how can that possibly be true?  We have such a big task already with just dealing with how rampant abortion is.”

I think the problem was that in my mind, I was still categorizing the three issues separately.  We have to remember that the people we speak to about abortion may be hindered from seeing the truth of its destruction because of our commodity culture.  These are people who are exposed to, subjected to, and/or have participated in the commodity of human beings, whether by being addicted to porn, having been a victim of rape, or taking part in pornography or the rape-culture.  So those of us who do see the truth of abortion in spite of the commodity culture need to know what we are up against.

This event emphasized the fact that rape-culture, porn, and abortion contribute to a commodification of human beings for the purposes of pleasure and convenience in any of its disguises.  These three cultural poisons are infecting university and college campuses across the country in great numbers.  Being aware and educated on what we are exposed to is a sure way to remind ourselves that trying to change hearts and minds is about more than trying to save the next generation from abortion, but also to save our own generation from the lies of our commodity culture. 

Check out “Porn Fuels Rape to read more about Jonathon and Daniel’s work.

If you’d like to get involved in Summer Activism in the Toronto and Vancouver areas, visit our Summer Activism page or contact central@ncln.ca !

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Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow

Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator

This summer, do yourself a favour: on a sunny day, go find a quiet place in a park or by a lake or ocean, take a notebook with you, and spend 30 min reflecting on this. I can guarantee the time you put into it now will benefit you ten times more in the long run!
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The following excerpts are taken from the article Become the Kind of Person Others Want to Follow. This article provides great insights into how we can grow as the leaders we are called to be. Reflect on the quotes and the questions to see where you can improve yourself so you can better lead others in sharing the pro-life message on your campus.

Leadership is an expression of your heart and soul. To become a leader, you need to know your higher purpose and believe in it passionately.

• What would you say your higher purpose is? Do you live a consistent life where your actions are in line with this purpose?
• Does your role in the pro-life club help you achieve this purpose?

Leaders need to feel comfortable in their own skin. It begins with the ability to explore and share one’s life story by helping people understand how we all mesh together for a meaningful journey. You intentionally begin to discover your authentic self by connecting with who you really are. Authentic leaders are not power driven but meaning driven people.

• What brings meaning to your life? How would you articulate this to others?
• How does your role in the pro-life club bring more meaning to your life?

As a leader you need to be fully committed to nurturing the well-being and commanding the trust of the people around you. Only in the context of a meaningful relationship can people feel empowered and inspired to demonstrate their greatest potential.

• Identify 2 students who you will meet up with for coffee this summer, taking the time to get to know them more so you can better work together in the pro-life club this upcoming year.
• What potential do you see in these students? Help them see how they can develop this by participating in the club.

The vision and direction of a team [is] about the ability of the leader to capture the big WHY in the hearts and minds of others. People rally behind a strong vision when they know WHY they doing what they doing.

• Why do you do what you do with the pro-life club? How do you articulate this to others?
• Do you truly believe in the vision of your club? “If you don’t get goose bumps telling others where our life is heading, your vision isn’t compelling enough to shape your behaviour.”* Is your vision compelling enough to inspire others to action?
As you start to look at the upcoming school year, keep these reflection points in mind. Are you approaching your leadership position in the pro-life club with the right heart? Are you the kind of person others want to follow?

*Mike Figliuolo in Let’s make leadership real again. Stanford, CA: Change This. (2012).
 

Be sure to talk to your Campus Coordinator about your leadership goals and plans! We’d love to work with you to help you achieve them!

 

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BC SNMAC Tour – A Week in Review

Written by Anastasia Pearse

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2 NCLN Staff Members, 4 Speakers, 5 Days, 7 Campuses and Over 10,000 Students Reached!

I first came into contact with the Silent No More Awareness Campaign (SNMAC) in 2009 when I attended the NCLN Symposium in Toronto. I was moved to tears by the story of Angelina Steenstra, National Director of the Campaign in Canada, shared with us. The circumstances that led to her abortion, the regret and pain that followed, and her journey to healing opened my eyes in a new way to the pain that so many students on our university campuses feel because of abortion. With our age demographic – that of university students – undergoing the most abortions, it was clear that this message is so needed on Canadian campuses. But with our club in Victoria, it seemed too difficult to bring the campaign to campus. 

photo 2 (1)The next year, an NCLN staff member based out of Vancouver coordinated a tour of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign to several British Columbian campuses. My club in Victoria jumped at the chance to have them on campus and I saw firsthand the impact that the testimonials of the speakers had on students.

Now, several years later, as an NCLN staff member, I was determined to help bring the campaign once again to campuses in BC. After months of planning, we had seven campus groups on board, four speakers confirmed, and pleasant weather in the forecast, and I was ready for a fruitful week of sharing the campaign.  But even from the very first day, I could tell this was more than fruitful: it was life-changing.

On their campuses, the clubs booked outdoor space in high traffic areas. We reached students through our resource tables as well as through posters stating “Women Do Regret Abortion,” “Men Regret Lost Fatherhood,” and “A Pregnant Woman Needs Support, Not Abortion.” The speakers shared their stories of abortion and their journeys of healing through a sound system, helping extend the reach of their message. Students walking by would stop to listen: sometimes they paused for a moment, sometimes for a minute, and often for the entire presentation. Club members, as well as myself and my colleague Kathleen Dunn, were on hand to distribute information as well as engage with our peers in conversation.

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Some students, after hearing the message and talking to one of us, left with resources in hand, seeking to give them to people they knew who had experienced abortion, or to use themselves as they started on a path to healing. We saw lives transformed in front of us with women breaking their silence about their abortion stories – one woman after 50 years – and leaving with a sense of hope. We estimate that we reached over 10,000 students in those 5 days, not including those who encountered the message through student newspaper coverage, discussions in their classrooms, and social media discussion.

The campaign’s impact also extended to the pro-life students and to the speakers themselves. The pro-life students saw the reach the campaign had and were even more convicted and encouraged to be active in sharing the pro-life message. The speakers shared their testimonies multiple times over the 5 days, but by the end of the week felt more fulfilled than fatigued, as they saw the impact they had, and felt the support from each other.

For myself, I was truly inspired: inspired by the speakers’ heart-felt witness to the cause; inspired by the pro-life students’ energy and determination to reach out with the message; and inspired by the students who were open to listening to our message and sharing their stories with us.

It is heart-wrenching to encounter so many young men and women who have been hurt by abortion, but I have a great deal of hope for our generation. I have hope because I see pro-life students becoming leaders who are reaching out with compassion to help their peers, and I have hope because I have seen firsthand how the pro-life message is touching students on campus.
Thank you to all those who supported this campaign! If you’d like to help continue making these campaigns possible, please consider supporting our work financially: www.ncln.ca/donate

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To hear the testimonies that were heard on BC Campuses, visit our Youtube Channel! 

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To see more pictures from the Campus Tour, visit our Facebook page!

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5 Steps to Making the Most of Your Tabling Event!

By Clarissa Luluquisin, Central Campus Coordinator

 As NCLN’s Central Campus Coordinator, my job involves getting my boots on the ground (specifically winter ones in this weather).  I trek to campuses across the province to train and assist pro-life students in their outreach, and my favourite project to help with is the club information table.  

What can be better than engaging with a person one-on-one, hearing their thoughts on abortion and responding to their concerns, and thanking them for taking a moment to speak to you?

Can you tell that I’m an extrovert?

Although events like debates and movie screenings can be very impactful, the information table marks the start of many personal relationships of the pro-life club’s members with soon-to be club members, as well as engaging with students who are not informed about abortion.  It is pro-life activism and recruitment – all packaged into one easy event! 

How you begin these relationships matter, and in maintaining these relationships, your club has a greater opportunity to grow.  And the more it grows, the more people there will be working alongside you to spread the pro-life message.  This engagement is all the more important with lives on the line.  

Check out our information guide on tabling here, and also find my 5 suggestions:

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TWU Tabling Event

1. Create an eye-catching display board with a variety of resources on the table.

Make an event out of it with your Exec too – no need to do this all on your own.  And if you’re short on resources, contact your local campus coordinator and you’ll be sent a bunch for free. Don’t forget to print out a sign-up sheet too!

2. Start all conversations with a kind smile.

People want to talk to people who are friendly and approachable, and this is harder to do on some days, with all that you have on your plate.
Think of laughing babies and joyful mothers if you need some motivation! 🙂

3. Speak with compassion and conviction.

Asking someone how they feel about abortion can bring up a lot of different emotions in a person.  Whether it be anger, sadness, or indifference, listen attentively, tell stories, and ask good questions.  Agree with them where you can, and explain with clarity where you cannot.  Illustrate your points well and schedule an apologetics trainings for your club members every once in a while to refresh yourself.  

 4. Follow up personally with the people who have signed up for your email list and invite them to the next meeting or club event.

This cannot be emphasized enough.  A day or two after your table, send a personal email to the student you spoke with, thank them for taking the time to chat with you, and invite them to your next meeting.  If you got along really well, why not suggest meeting up for coffee to tackle a bit further that interesting point they brought up?

5. Debrief with your club members.

Whether in between conversations, or soon after a day of tabling is done, debriefing about your conversations is so essential.  How else are you ever going to get better and spread the message as effectively as possible?  If you didn’t like how you said something, think about it some more, and come up with ways with your fellow club members you would have liked to say it instead.  

Ready? Set? GROW!

Have any stories about tabling on your campus?  Send us an email

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84 Years after the Persons Case Canada Still has Lessons to Learn

Written by Kathleen Dunn

84 years ago today, on October 18th 1929, Canadian women were recognized as persons under the law.  Lord Sankey of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England reversed the Supreme Court of Canada’s earlier decision and ruled in favour of female personhood. “The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours,” he said.

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As a woman, I’m thankful that the Famous Five took matters into their own hands when our femininity was used to marginalize and exclude our gender. In the face of injustice, these women had the strength and courage to take matters into their own hands and fight for their personhood.

But as I reflect on the importance of this day, my thoughts are unquestionably drawn towards the preborn: the only group of Canadian human beings without the status of personhood.

Like the preborn, women were not recognized as persons, despite their fundamental human equality. But unlike the preborn, these women had their own voices and could speak up to defend themselves.  The preborn, while being denied personhood and human equality, are violently killed before even given the chance to speak for themselves.

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The pro-life movement is unique among social justice movements in that the victims of injustice are entirely unable to advance their own cause. Without pro-life voices like your own, the injustice of abortion will continue to silently and brutally snuff out these young lives.

So when you face discouragement in your pro-life activism, feeling as if your voice can do nothing, remember that the preborn have no voice but yours. Their silent screams will only be heard when we let them ring out through our own mouths, as we choose to defend them.

Emily Murphy, one of the Famous Five in the Persons Case, took these words as her motto: “Whenever I don’t know whether to fight or not, I fight.” So, as we celebrate this milestone for women, let us continually, in every moment, make the choice to fight – to be a voice for the preborn – who are entirely voiceless without us.

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Defund Abortion Campus Campaign

Check out this new way to engage your peers in the conversation about abortion! It’s simple to organize, virtually FREE to execute, and makes a BIG impact. The Defund Abortion Campus Campaign is a unique way to get your campus talking about abortion by opening the conversation from the standpoint of tax-payer funded abortion. NCLN hooked up with Campaign Life Coalition Youth to bring this awesome initiative to YOU!

It’s so easy to organize, you can try it on your campus next WEEK! 

Click for a video of step-by-step instructions to bring this campaign to YOUR campus! 

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Reach Campuses, Change Canada: A Message for Every Pro-Life Post-Secondary Student

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

Canada’s pro-choice movement has been well-served by campuses.  Whether pro-choice or pro-life, campuses remain critical ground to take in the culture wars.  These venerable institutions are an engine for change and cultural transformation in our country – for better or for worse.

During a recent re-reading of Henry Morgentaler’s biography, I was struck by the manner in which universities were used to advance abortion on-demand.  As the Women’s Liberation Movement rose in the 60’s and 70’s, groups formed on campuses with abortion “rights” a core tenet of their mission.  They influenced the soon-to-be legislators, lawyers, doctors and educators.  They became legislators, lawyers, doctors and educators.  Even before the law changed, their associations, such as the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Bar Association, lobbied parliament to allow abortions.

And when Henry Morgentaler was arrested, “women across the country were politicized, activated” and able to spring to his support, says biographer Catherine Dunphy.[1]  And it was often university educated men and women – the business, arts, and political elites -that publicly or privately championed the cause, often funding and fundraising for it as well. photo 3

These days pro-choicers are calling on students to reclaim campuses for the cause.  A few years ago the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) began a student project, and Joyce Arthurs has served, she wrote in an ARCC newsletter, as a consultant for student unions nationally.  Their student coordinator even noted with concern that, “Canadian campuses have become hotbeds for anti-choice activities in recent years.”[2] 

But our goal is not to merely worry pro-choicers.  We still have a lot of work to do.  But as we return back to school – or start at university or college for the first time – we can find ourselves overwhelmed.  The fact is that there are many good and noble things that can occupy our thoughts and time.

When I started my degree at the University of Ottawa, pro-life activism was not on my radar.  I was pro-life, to be sure, but I was focused on getting my education, accomplishing my goals and ultimately doing good in the world after graduation.  None of this was bad, but I was missing something: the fact that Canadian campuses are mission fields desperate for the pro-life message and that I could do good here and now and not just after graduation.

Our campuses contain the age demographic upon which the most abortions are performed each year; our campuses contain Canada’s future leaders; our campuses affect Canadian culture.  And unless there is an active pro-life presence on a campus, students are exposed to only the pro-choice message.

This year, in particular, I have been impacted by the sad reality that we are a generation that has come of age in the 25 years since the R. v. Morgentaler Supreme Court decision.  We are a generation that has known nothing but unrestricted abortion on-demand.  We are survivors, with a quarter of our generation having lost their lives to abortion.

That is who we are and we didn’t have a choice, but who we can become is what we get to choose.  We have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that the next generation is not abandoned to the fate that ours suffered.

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The upcoming NCLN Symposium is entirely dedicated to forming student leaders who can lead Canada out of the shadows of R. v. Morgentaler.  This weekend’s theme is Out of the Shadows, and is open to all pro-life students in Canada as an incredible opportunity to be formed, educated, and equipped by top Canadian and American pro-life leaders as well as to connect with the cross-Canada Student Pro-Life Movement.

Many Canadian pro-lifers, including leaders such as the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Stephanie Gray, Jonathon Van Maren and Maaike Rosendal, credit the Symposium with being “THE event” for pro-life students and “literally life changing” for them personally.

If you believe that abortion is the killing of innocent human beings, if you believe that women deserve better than abortion, and if you want to see Canadian culture respect life, it’s time to take action on campuses.  The Symposium is a great way to start.

I realize that I am asking you to let your heart break for injustice, over and over again.  I know that I am asking you to make a sacrifice and to take a risk.  But it is only in this way that we can move Canada out of the shadows and into the light of a Culture of Life. It starts with you; it starts with your campus.


[1] Catherine Dunphy.  Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero.  Toronto: Random House of Canada Ltd. 1996, pg. 100.

[2] Tara Paterson, “Pro-choice thinkers unite! A call-out for pro-active reproductive justice”. March 3 2012.

http://arccsynergy.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/pro-choice-thinkers-unite-a-call-out-for-pro-active-reproductive-justice/

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