University of Toronto Students for Life: Epigenetics and the sanctity of life

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

This past Tuesday, Dr. Clem Persaud was on the U of T campus and gave a talk regarding epigenetics and its relationship to the life issues. I will give a summary of the talk and then give a little bit of commentary.

Basically, epigenetics is a new wave of science dealing with gene expression. It is now becoming more apparent that things in our environment, such as stress, the food we eat, exercise and maybe even plants in a classroom can change the way in which our genes are expressed. These changes can affect our health and even how we act and think. Dr. Persaud gave some intriguing studies demonstrating epigenetics and its effects on gene expression (these effects can even span two or three generations!).

What does all of this have to do with the sanctity of life? Well, Dr. Persaud mentioned the abortion-breast cancer link and health defects in IVF babies. In the first case, a full-term pregnancy, according to Dr. Persaud, protects a woman from breast cancer. Inversely, an interrupted pregnancy, such as abortion, can increase the risk of breast cancer. The reason for this is that during pregnancy the woman has a high level of estrogen. Once a pregnancy is interrupted, this high level of estrogen has no where to go and can influence gene expression, potentially leading to the generation of cancer cells.

In the second example of IVF babies, Dr. Persaud mentioned that defects occur during the prepartion of the embryo before implantation into the womb. The manipulations of the embryo during the IVF process can lead to changes in gene expression, leading to birth and health defects of the IVF baby.

My commentary:

Dr. Persaud was both engaging and intriguing while discussing the topic of epigenetics. I was impressed that he could take something as complex as epigenetics and turn it into a presentation that everyone understood and enjoyed. From what Dr. Persaud discussed, epigenetics could be another avenue in science that shows how treating life as a means to an end (such as IVF and abortion) can lead to negative consequences. UTSFL thanks Dr. Persaud for a great talk!

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

University of Toronto Students for Life: Can YOU lose your voice for a day?

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

As many of you know, today is the annual “PRO LIFE DAY OF SILENT SOLIDARITY“.

In respect for those who never had the chance to speak, pro-life campuses around Canada and around the globe will be witnesses to the injustice of abortion by being silent for the entire day and handing out flyers to those who ask why they are not speaking.

Flyers can be downloaded here.  Students are also asked to wear red arm bands or red tape around their mouths, in honour of the blood that has been shed by abortion.

In the Lifesitenews article dedicated to this special day, it is stated that “Last year Stand True heard from participants that over 80 girls canceled their abortions on the day of the event due to the silent campaign”. This is amazing!

I just wanted to say that there is so much we need to be thankful for. After all the events that are taking place at this very moment, such as 40 Days for Life in the US and in Canada, as well as the past trial of the Carleton and Queen students  forcibly silenced , there is so much being done and said. At this very moment, crisis pregnancy centres are open and hoping for a new expecting mother who will walk in bravely and ask for help.

I understand there is a great deal more that we can do to reach out to the students on our campus, and of course by no means can we just sit back and take a break, but we have certainly come a long way. The Pro-life stand is making its name known, and what we CAN certainly do is to make sure that this stand remains just and true. It cannot have any double standards and must be full of a care for all life.

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

University of Toronto Students for Life: Working Together To Build A Culture of Life: The NCLN Campus Blogs Aggregator

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

In August, I helped the National Campus Life Network launch the campus blogs section of their new website. I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, and many pro-life students already know about it. These past couple weeks, with the arrests at Carleton, it’s been great to see it serve as a way for pro-life students to band together across campuses.

A feed aggregator is a software application that pulls in syndicated content from a variety of sources and displays it in a single convenient location. You can install a feed reader on your own computer to read content from all sorts of different blogs and websites in one place (an “inbox for the web”), but in this case, we used a web-based feed aggregator to display content from all of the Canadian campus blogs on the NCLN website.

We started off with six blogs—Brock, Alberta, Queen’s, Ottawa, Victoria and Toronto (that’s us!)—but we’ve already see two more campus pro-life blogs appear in the last few weeks—Calgary and Carlton.

The campus blogs aggregator has been a great hub of information with recent events at Carleton, with a preview of GAP from Calgary Pro-Life, our posts appearing alongside uOttawa Students for Life’s show of support, more support from Queen’s Alive, Brock University’s perspective on freedom of expression, and of course posts from Carleton Lifeline itself. I decided to caption some of the photos (which I believe were taken by Ania Biernacka of the University of Alberta on behalf of the CCBR), and Brock Students for Life showed that the students were in good company, by comparing photos of those arrests to the arrests of civil rights activists for “protesting without a permit” in 1963.

And beyond Carleton, there are just some great posts coming from campus blogs, whether it’s UVic’s recap of clubs day conversations, uOttawa spreading the word about 40 Days for Life or finding encouragement from a fortune cookie, Calgary Pro-Life sharing news of their ongoing battles with the university administration, or our own Danny Ricci spreading news from a UTSFL club member about an information series for expectant mothers provided by the U of T Family Care office, or our own Gianna Marks highlighting a remarkable article from the NY Times who refused prenatal testing to screen for Down Syndrome.

I am so impressed by pro-life students from campuses across the country, and we’re only getting started. I’m working with NCLN a bit to help get other clubs online and blogging (more on that later), and I hope that the campus blogs aggregator helps to strengthen the community ties between groups across the country, and challenge us all to keep sharing information, supporting each other and ultimately working to build a culture of life together in our own communities.

Together, in our own communities—that’s what’s so cool about this project to me.

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

University of Toronto Students for Life: Support from Students for Life of America

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

Our friend Blaise did a phenomenal job of blogging about the arrests at Carleton University last week. He did such a good job that Students for Life of America sent out a statement regarding the arrests (because it is not like they would have heard about the arrests from anybody else). Here is the statement from Kristan Hawkins, executive director of Students for Life of America:

Yesterday, the Canadian government showed once again that it does not
respect freedom of speech, freedom of expression or the sanctity of
human life. Pro-life students should have the right to speak out on
their own campus, particularly when that campus is publically funded.
The four pro-life students, arrested for trespassing at Carleton
University, showed exemplary faith and courage in the face of
discrimination.  By silencing these students, Carleton University
actually helped advance the pro-life message. The controversy
surrounding this incident will help educate thousands of Canadian
students. Pro-life students across the world stand in solidarity with
the four pro-life student heroes at Carleton University.

UTSFL, along with Students for Life of America,  stands in solidarity with these brave pro-life students. From my own experience I’m not sure how I would have handled the situation that they faced. I do know, however, that we should all feel more courageous in spreading the pro-life message on campus. All pro-lifers need to support these students for their witness to life and educate our peers wherever we may be.

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

University of Toronto Students for Life: VIDEO: Peaceful Prolife Student Protesters Given A Choice: “Protest” Inside or Face Arrest

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

More details have emerged from the arrests at Carleton University this morning, especially with the release of this video from the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform.

Notice, the Carleton official doesn’t want “this display in this location.” What policies guide their restrictions on which displays can go where? As Ruth Lobo, the president of the Carleton pro-life pointed out, the Carleton Student Rights and Responsibilities Policy states that “peaceful assemblies, demonstrations and lawful picketing are allowed within established laws.” Yet, the University told the students to “protest” indoors (is that what they tell union staff when they strike?) or be charged with trespassing on their own campus.

I took a guess that Porter Hall was a little less of an effective location for a protest than where they were heading. Craig Stewart, one of the students, left a comment on our first post about this incident describing Porter Hall as “an isolated old gymnasium off the beaten path.” Ruth Lobo says in the National Post that its “like a tomb to which no one ever goes.” Take a look at where Porter Hall is, according to Google Maps, in relation to the Carleton campus.
Update: Seth left a comment to correct the Google map:

Just for the sake of accuracy, Porter Hall is actually located on level 2 of the University Center building. To be fair, that is the central building right in the middle of campus and it’s packed with students passing through and eating everyday. That being said, nobody really knows where Porter Hall is. It’s a bit of a cave and down a couple of halls from the highly populated areas. Either way, the pin on the map is incorrect. The UniCentre building is just South-West of Campus Avenue from the green arrow. That is the central area of the Carleton Campus.

I guess Google doesn’t know where Porter Hall is either.

Which other campus groups get arrested for not protesting in Porter Hall?

The legal issues are a bit tricky. Does the Charter of Rights and Freedoms apply to universities? They assert they are private institutions, yet the majority of their funding often comes from the government, and there isn’t really a clear legal precedent. Notwithstanding the Charter (get it?), the University has a responsibility to adhere to its own governing documents, which outlined a right to peaceful protest under “established laws.” Certain time, manner and place restrictions are reasonable, but cannot be applied arbitrarily, and also ought to be reasonable. Telling the pro-life club that they can only protest on the edge of campus, indoors, seems pretty unreasonable, and I’d be surprised if other groups got the same treatment. There’s also Ontario human rights legislation which could come into play if things were to really get nasty. (Though, note that the students were charged with trespassing under provincial law, not criminal trespassing under the criminal code, so, I’ve been told it’s more like a traffic violation in the sense that you don’t have a criminal record, but just fines.)

Though the legal issues are murky, the broader message is not. Carleton University will attempt to squash expression it doesn’t like, they’ll call the cops on peaceful students if they don’t stay indoors with their protests, and they won’t hesitate to discriminate based on the message.

In short, if you express an unpopular opinion at Carleton, you might be cuffed and hauled off in a van.

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

University of Toronto Students for Life: Abortion doctor convicted of one of his many murders

This post was written for University of Toronto Students for Life by matthewcram412. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

This story aired in the Boston Globe yesterday. It basically tells the story of an abortion doctor in the United States who through criminal incompetence killed one of his patients. The woman of course was young, the victim of extreme poverty and abuse. Abortion was the latest in a long line of degrading parts of her life and the doctor, not having the basic equipment to make the abortion safe even for the mother, tried to cover up his crime immediately. I honestly don’t know what disgusts me most about this crime. The paper, as expected, perpetrated the myth that abortion is somehow just another medical procedure. The article does not mention the word abortion until well through it, and of course never once mentioned the other life involved in the tragedy. Indeed, if one hadn’t read the title of the article or the ominous line “she was 13 weeks pregnant”, one would almost have the impression that she was coming in to get her tonsils out. One of the arguments I get most often as a pro-lifer is the argument of making abortion safe. Aside from the fact that it is impossible to make anything designed to kill a person entirely safe, I can only hope that this opens up people’s eyes to the fact that no abortion is safe. Even in a country where abortion is legal on demand, you still sometimes get the same treatment as you might get in a back alley. How horrible that it took this monstrous loss of life to finally get this man off the streets, even if it is only for a few months (I have no doubt that if it had not been for the controversy around the abortion issue, he would have got much more time than 9 months), but I wonder how many others out there are like him, Or how many people leave abortion clinics with illnesses that don’t show up right away, like breast cancer or infertility, which the medical community in its zeal to defend “abortion rights” refused to warn people of? Abortion hurts the lives of everyone it touches, from the millions of voiceless victims to the mothers and the families. For every physical scar abortion leaves on all of its victims, there are a thousand emotional ones. This woman and her baby are the latest victim of something that kills millions every year.

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