National Campus Life Network > Blog > By Rebecca Richmond

In their own words

By Rebecca Richmond

These comments were made in Toronto by pro-choice activists at a rally, underscoring the importance and the impact of campus pro-life activism.  Watch the clip here.  In their own words: “We can’t let our guard down”

To better appreciate what they’re saying, I have included a transcript (with my own comments and corrections in line).

“They are heating up their end of things.  They are mobilizing wherever they can to challenge pro-choice forces.  And they are trying to do it a lot on campus.”

Is there any better place to discuss and debate controversial issues and challenge the status quo than on university campuses?

“There’s been a lot of stuff at U of T.”

Go U of T Students for Life! Keep up the great work!

“Coming up on March 14th, there’s going to be a debate at the University of Toronto.  The anti-choice is organizing with a woman from this group called the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, I believe it’s called.”

Yes, there will be a debate and I’m looking forward to it!  Stephanie Gray will be presenting the pro-life position and she is the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform .

“Basically it’s the GAP, the Genocide Awareness Project, what they call it.”

The Genocide Awareness Project is one of the educational tools that the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform uses.  However, the debate in question is not GAP but, as the title suggestions, a debate.  A debate is defined as a formal, regulated discussion of an issue with two opposing views presented.  This debate will, as such, present both sides of the issue of abortion: pro-life and pro-choice.

“Which is these big, monstr – you know, giant-sized signs that they display on campuses and that are so offensive and that are just so horrible.”

The signs are offensive and horrible, but that is because they accurately reflect the offensive and horrible reality of abortion.  To quote pro-choice feminist Naomi Wolf: “The pro-choice movement often treats with contempt the pro-lifers’ practice of holding up to our faces their disturbing graphics….[But] how can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy.”
-16 Naomi Wolf, “Our Bodies, Our Souls,” The New Republic, 16 October 1996.

“So they’re going to have a debate on campus with a doctor I’ve never heard of, but I think, if people are interested (and we’ll send out an email about that), it’s on March 14th, I think pro-choice supporters should show up en masse and we should support anybody who’s on campus who’s standing up for choice. “

First off, the ‘doctor’ in question is Doctor Ainslie.  The speaker may not have heard of him but he’s certainly more than qualified.  Professor Ainslie is the chair of both the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Graduate Department of Philosophy.  In January he was named principal of University College.  One of his major fields of study is bioethics.

Second, I hope pro-choicers show up with open minds and with respect for the debate.

“Because they’re trying just basically to populate the campus with their activities and their things.”

We’re trying to save lives and change hearts and minds.  Having activities, events and an active presence on campus are means to accomplish our goals.

“For many of us, we thought we had sort of won this battle many years ago and clearly it’s not, it’s not something we can ever let our guard down.”

Clearly.

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New Pro-Life Job Opportunities

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

Prior to graduating and prior to my present job, I attended NCLN’s National Symposium as a student.  One of the last talks of the weekend was given by Jose Ruba, the co-founder of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.  I can’t recall everything he said but one line jumped out and stayed with me: “there are more people working full-time to kill babies than there are people working full-time to save babies.”

That statement stirred my heart and was a definite factor in deciding to pursue this job with NCLN.

On this note, our Pro-Life Jobs page has been updated with three opportunities for pro-life job positions in Alberta and British Columbia.

Click here to view the page.

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The ‘B’ word: Does being pro-life make us bigots?

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

“You’re a religious bigot!”

The accusation caught me by surprise.  I was with the University of Toronto Students for Life at their abortion protest and the pro-choicers had mobilized a counter protest. (see yesterday’s blog post for more details) The man in front of me was in his late 30s or maybe even in his 40s, with a Planned Parenthood t-shirt, a handful of pamphlets called “10 LIES that ANTI CHOICE groups are telling you about abortion,” and a bag of pro-choice buttons.

I wish I had the conversation – if I can call it that – on tape, because it was an interesting one.

“What does ‘choice’ mean?” I had asked.  “Shouldn’t our choices be limited if they result in the death of an innocent human being?”

And then came the ‘B word’.

“But you’re pre-judging me,” I protested, “I haven’t mentioned religion* at all.  Why are you assuming all these things before you even listen to what you have to say?”

But the “conversation” was over apparently, and he walked away from me.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of a bigot is:

“a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”

These are serious allegations and since I was not given an opportunity to respond to them at the protest, I would now like to clear my name.

Yes, I am devoted to the pro-life position.  However:

  • Although I was raised by pro-life parents, I did my own research to form my opinion.  You see, my parents and my teachers always encouraged me to conduct research when forming an opinion.  So I read articles and books.  I investigated fetal development and considered pictures of abortions.  And I thought carefully.
  • I have not shied away from dissenting opinions and sources of information.  For example, I attempted to speak with the pro-choicers at the protest.  In fact, I gladly speak to any pro-choicer who is interested in discussing abortion.  (Please note that when I say “I will speak”, this includes also listening to whomever I’m speaking with.)  I took feminist theory classes in university.  I read pro-choice blogs and articles regularly.

No, I do not treat “members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.”  Nor do I treat pro-choicers and/or men and women who have had or been involved with an abortion with hatred and intolerance.  Trying to have dialogue is not hatred nor is it intolerance.  Telling women they deserve better than abortion is not hatred nor is it intolerance.

So no, I am not a bigot.  And please do me the courtesy of listening before you label me as such.



*Interestingly, the only person I heard mention religion was one pro-choice woman who had the microphone.  She told us she was Catholic and that the Bible says “do not judge.”  One pro-life student turned to me and remarked, “Doesn’t the Bible also say something along the lines of ‘thou shalt not murder’?”  And if she’s going to bring up judging, perhaps she and her friends should take note of that and not call us names without first listening to what we have to say.

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Imagine listening to this all day…

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

I’m not very familiar with the campus at the University of Toronto, but I had no trouble finding what I was looking for yesterday.  I don’t think anyone within a 2 block radius could have missed the ruckus that was the street corner in front of the library at the U of T.

University of Toronto Students for Life were there, peacefully holding signs, handing out pamphlets on the pro-life position, engaging people in dialogue on the issue of abortion.









Pro-choicers were there too.  With large banners they tried to block the pro-life signs.  They handed out brochures entitled “10 LIES that ANTI CHOICE groups are telling you about abortion.”  They called the pro-lifers names.  And, with a megaphone, they chanted from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.  I’m quite familiar with their chants and am always surprised by the fact that, despite decades and decades of chanting, they still resort to the same old ‘classics’.

“NOT THE CHURCH, NOT THE STATE.  WOMEN MUST DECIDE THEIR FATE,” they yelled, making it hard to hear above the din.  If they really believed that women should decide their fate, they shouldn’t have a problem with women discussing the issue.  Nor should they have a problem with the many female pro-life students making their views on abortion known.

“GET YOUR ROSARIES OFF OUR OVARIES!”  they yelled, apparently not noticing that the club is non-religious, that the club members never appealed to religion, and that there wasn’t a rosary in sight.

“HEY HEY MISTA MISTA!  GET YOUR LAWS OFF MY SISTA!”  they chanted.  One pro-life student turned to me and posed an apt question: “What laws are they talking about?  Last time I checked, Canada had no abortion laws.”

Sadly most of the pro-choicers refused to talk with the students about abortion.  “I’m not talking to you about this!” was heard over and over again.  And when they barged into conversations between pro-lifers and students passing by, the pro-choicers made unfounded allegations (apparently we’re in league with firebombing an abortion clinic?!) and refused to listen to anything the pro-life students had to say.

Fortunately, many other students were willing to talk, and had good discussions with the club members on the issue of abortion. Many weren’t interested in talking or were off to a class, but walked away holding a brochure which outlines and defends the pro-life position on abortion.  Countless others had to at least consider the issue, as they walked past.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how loud the opposition is.  Because    at the end of the day, you can’t drown out the truth.

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NCLN at the International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director


October 28th-30th, I had the privilege of speaking at the International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa.  The conference, sponsored by Campaign Life Coalition, Life Canada, LifeSiteNews.com, and the International Right to Life Federation, brought together speakers from around the world, including politicians, international pro-life leaders, doctors, authors, media, and yours truly.

As I told my audience during my talk, I felt humbled to speak at the conference, knowing that my audience included many giants in the pro-life movement as well as many people who have been fighting for the lives of the unborn longer than I have been alive.  Their work, and the work of others like them, has been important in paving the way for me to be where I am today.  I closed my talk by drawing attention to the fact that my generation is a generation of survivors; we are here because someone “wanted” us.  And so, on behalf of our peers who didn’t survive, who were slaughtered by abortion, a new generation of pro-life leaders is standing up to continue the fight.

It was a wonderful opportunity to share the work of NCLN with the attendees.  The audience was inspired to hear about the advances being made on university campuses in Canada as well as the perseverance and courage of pro-life students, even when facing adversity.

The Conference was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet other pro-life leaders.  I also had the pleasure of meeting a few university students who are involved in campus pro-life groups, or are planning to get involved.

I congratulate the hosts and sponsors of this conference and look forward to future conferences.

(Photo by Campaign Life Coalition Youth.)

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Tonight: Carleton Lifeline to host controversial talk

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director


Despite being arrested on October 4th for attempting to put up a pro-life display, the students of Carleton University’s pro-life campus group are continuing to be active as a club.  Working to engage their campus in dialogue on the issue of abortion, they will be hosting a controversial presentation called “Echoes of the Holocaust” tonight.

This presentation, given by Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, draws attention to the similarities between past atrocities and injustices, such as the Holocaust, and abortion.  It was shouted down last year at McGill University as well as St. Mary’s University.

Ruth Lobo, one of the students arrested, made the following invitation in an article by Patrick Craine of Lifesitenews.com,

“We’re inviting anyone who’s heard about the controversy over our arrest and who wants to know why we are so willing to speak up for the unborn, to hear the presentation…We know that we won’t be able to reach as many people from a closed room—which is why we’ve been fighting so hard to get the debate out in the open—but we want people to hear our side of the story.”

The talk will be held tonight, Monday October 18th, at 7 p.m. at Carleton University,  Tory building, room 360,

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Charter defends free speech rights, says lawyer

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director


Today in the Calgary Herald, a column appears concerning Pridgen v. University of the Calgary and its implications.  Written by John Carpay, lawyer for the Campus Pro-Life group at the University of Calgary, the column clearly articulates what this ruling means for pro-life university students.

“This decision bodes well for pro-life students at the U of C and at Carleton University, who have courageously resisted the university’s censorship of their politically incorrect speech.

This court ruling makes it clear that when a university tries to use its legitimate disciplinary proceedings for an illegitimate purpose such as censorship, the Charter protects the students’ right to free speech.”

To read the column, click here.

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The ‘Pridgen Precedent’: The Charter Does Apply to Universities

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director


Yesterday’s ruling by Madam Justice J. Strekaf in Pridgen v. University of Calgary did not concern abortion or pro-life university students.  But I still cheered when I heard the news that Keith and Steven Pridgen had won their case.

Why?  Because the ruling clearly states that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does protect the freedom of speech of students on their university campus.

As Justice Strekaf said,

“I am satisfied that the University is not a Charter free zone.  The Charter does apply in respect of the disciplinary proceedings taken by the University against the Applicants [Keith and Steven Pridgen]….While the University is free to construct policies dealing with student behaviour which may ultimately impact access to the post-secondary system, the manner in which those policies are interpreted and applied must not offend the rights provided under the Charter.”

For more information on the specifics of the Pridgen’s case, see the Calgary Herald’s article.

The ruling is good news for the Pridgens.  It’s great news, as well, for pro-life students across Canada who have faced, or will face, discrimination from university administrations and student unions because of their pro-life message.

University administrations and student unions should take note of this ruling – especially the University of Calgary and Carleton University, which seem to have a particularly hard time respecting free speech rights of students, at least when it comes to pro-life students.  Justice Strekaf’s ruling sets a clear precedent.  Students do have free speech rights on campus and they have the law on their side.

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