Dialogue Series, Part 1

Over the next couple weeks, we will be sharing a series of posts that address many of the tough questions we encounter during our pro-life outreach. We hope to provide you with practical responses that help you not only understand how to respond, but also why we are addressing these concerns and questions in the first place.

However, even with the “right” answers tucked into your belt, pro-life outreach often includes being personally attacked. Regardless of the accusations made against us personally, there is one way in which we must always respond: with a heart full of love, reaching out to the other’s heart that is in need of healing and of hearing the truth. This initial blog post addresses this core foundation of our pro-life outreach and how you can live this out, even when faced with hostility.

Let Love Win:

Bringing our Hearts to our Pro-Life Outreach

Written by Joanna Krawczynski, Western Campus Coordinator

Sometimes, Life Chain can seem like a discouraging form of outreach. The only feedback we tend to receive at a Life Chain are honks, yells, and a variety of hand gestures. The high school students I was with during my most recent Life Chain event were the recipients of all the above – one student was even the victim of a drive-by drink throwing.

Luckily, the fellow who threw his unfinished iced coffee from his car window did not aim right, and his drink crashed between the curb and the highway, rather than on the bright purple shirt of the student. The other high school students on the sidewalk were understandably shaken and surrounded their friend with concern, “Are you okay?”

One girl asked, “Aren’t you mad?”

The student responded, “No… why should I be?” She laughed, “I mean, maybe he just thought I was thirsty!”

Grace abounds from the heart that is full of love.

That’s the only way I can understand this student’s gracious response to adversity.

One might be tempted to think that we have every right to be frustrated with the censorship and opposition we so often encounter. But how can a heart that is held captive by bitterness or anger be free to extend love?

After all, what kind of Canada do we want to grow old in?

Are we seeking to build a culture of hostility or of hospitality?

Reaching out to students at UBC-O
Students reaching out with the QA Project

And I’m not talking compromise – to be a voice of hope and healing requires that we recognize that something has been broken, that something has gone seriously awry and is in need of rescue.

And yes. Even when we approach each conversation with the kindest heart and the most sincere compassion, we will still face adversity. Many of the people to whom we are reaching out are standing on shaky foundations built on lies about their value and the value of human life. When we try to dismantle this, it is no wonder that we encounter reactions such as anger and are personally attacked with iced coffee or hurtful comments.

One afternoon, a fellow who identified as pro-choice told me, “I honestly hope you do not succeed. You will be hurting a lot of women in the process.”

As I mentioned then, dear student, and I repeat now, I honestly hope we do succeed in sharing this message of hope and healing. I personally know too many women who have been hurt by abortion. For their sake and for the lives of their little ones, we cannot keep silent.

In the words of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr, in his letter from the Birmingham jail,

“If I have said anything that overstates the truth and indicates an unreasonable impatience, I beg you to forgive me. If I have said anything that understates the truth and indicates my having a patience that allows me to settle for anything less than brotherhood, I beg God to forgive me.”

Next time you engage in a conversation, ask yourself: What is motivating you to have this conversation? Are you speaking out of a true desire to heal the broken, or out of a need to win a debate? Further, when we encounter situations of hostility or adversity, how do we respond: with grace, or with grumbling? When we bring our hearts to pro-life outreach, even in situations of hostility, we really only have one option:

LET LOVE WIN.

 

Martin Luther King meme

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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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PRESS RELEASE: Abortion Debate on B.C. Campuses

March 7th, 2012: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

ABORTION DEBATE ON BC CAMPUSES

Vancouver, B.C. University pro-life clubs across British Columbia are bringing the abortion debate to their campuses in an unprecedented manner. Over the next week, six B.C. university campuses will be hosting multiple events, seeking to engage their peers on the issue of abortion.

“Our universities are places where ideas should be shared and contentious issues discussed,” states Anastasia Pearse, Western Campus Coordinator for the National Campus Life Network, a national pro-life student organization. “A recent CIHI report reveals that over a quarter of abortions are performed on university–aged students. If this is a choice young women are making, it is important that they consider what precisely they are choosing and know what abortion alternatives exist.”

Despite Prime Minister Harper’s repeated refusal to reopen the abortion debate in Parliament, pro-life student groups across the country have continued to be active on this issue, even amidst censorship and discrimination like that experienced most recently by Youth Protecting Youth at the University of Victoria.

Events include academic debates, resource distribution, information tables, and abortion imagery projects, all aimed at educating and engaging students in dialogue on the abortion issue. These clubs are also calling on their local politicians, asking them to bring the abortion debate to parliament.

Along with Canadian campus groups, others across the country are also working to raise awareness on the need to dialogue about abortion. Jakki Jeffs, director of Ontario’s We Want the Debate Campaign, has stated that, “the suppression of any debate in a democratic society is unacceptable.” The Alliance for Life of Ontario campaign is demanding that, “the current censorship of the debate around abortion be ended, and that an open and informed discussion be held in public.”

Abortion takes the lives of approximately 300 Canadian preborn human beings every day. Canadian pro-life students refuse to remain silent or be censored while such an injustice is occurring in our society.

Abortion Debates:
Capilano University: March 8th, 1:30 pm, Cedar Building Room 122
University of British Columbia: March 12th, 5:00pm, UBC-Woodward 1
University of the Fraser Valley: March 13th, 6:00pm, UFV Abbotsford Room B101
Simon Fraser University: March 14th, 6:00pm, SFU Burnaby, room TBA

For further information contact:
Anastasia Pearse Western Campus Coordinator, National Campus Life Network westerncanada@ncln.ca 604-365-3484

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Logic and Hearts

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

The tea cups went down at Tim Hortons and the debate started.  We’re good friends and old friends and yet we had always side-stepped the issue.  She was outraged at the Carleton arrests and any sort of infringement of pro-lifers’ free speech rights, but she didn’t agree with me on the issue.

“I’m pro-choice,” my friend explained.  “I don’t think abortion should be used as birth control.  If I got pregnant, I’d have the baby.  But in the case of rape, I don’t think the woman should be forced to endure that for nine months.  I can’t tell her what to do in that circumstance.”

The conversation unfolded in the typical way, (for the pro-life position against abortion even in the case of rape, please see this link) but eventually we reached an impasse.  She admitted she didn’t know exactly what the preborn child was.  She agreed it was killing but…  When she walked right into a logical flaw, she admitted it.  But…

“A woman with a born child can give it up; there’s a system in place to help.  But with pregnancy, she alone deals with that.”

“But why does that give her a right to kill?”

She admitted that she wanted the number of abortions to decrease.  She thought the reality of abortion in Canada is far from ideal,  in terms of reasons for it, the lack of informed consent, and the lack of support systems to help woman keep their children.

“So you disagree with most abortions that are happening but why?” I asked.  “Why do you care about them when you don’t even know what they are?”

“Look, purely based on logic, yeah, what you said makes sense.  But there’s more to it than just logic.”

“Yes, I absolutely agree with you in terms of logic,” piped up another friend.  “In terms of logic, I’m on your side.  But there’s also the emotional side to it.”

The discussion ended abruptly and we parted ways.  If this had been a formal debate with a judge keeping score, I would have won.  I had made a clear, coherent and logical case for the pro-life position, a fact conceded by my friends.

But winning arguments doesn’t matter and I don’t care what a judge would think of how I argued.  All the logic in the world can’t move a heart that doesn’t want to move.  Perhaps my words planted seeds; perhaps progress was made.  Perhaps.  Maybe all I have left is to not waver in my commitment to the cause, regardless of the sacrifices it requires.  My words can’t change a heart, but perhaps the way I live my life can.

 

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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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