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National Campus Life Network > Blog > graphic images

Abortion Victim Photography: A Justifiable Defence of the Preborn?

abortion-photography-image_2

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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uOttawa Students For Life: Cause for Hope

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

by Kelden Formosa

The tall, angry young man had just screamed “semantic witch” at the young woman at the lectern several rows before him. It seems he didn’t like what she had to say – her argument that abortion kills a human being did not appeal to his pro-choice sensibilities, apparently. You would think that Stephanie Gray, the pro-life debater and executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-ethical Reform, might have stumbled, but instead she continued on with her point, taking it all in stride, as the man walked out of the university hall.

The young man was a pro-choice audience member at the abortion debate organized by the University of Ottawa Students for Life and the U of O Med Students for Life this past year. It’s been a few months since the big debate – one which divided our campus and provoked real controversy – but looking back on it now, I think it provides us with some important insights on the future of the continuing public debate on abortion in Canada.

As one of those involved in the organization of the debate (full disclosure), I was quite happy to welcome even the most militant pro-choice activists, including the young man mentioned prior. It is the challenge of pro-life activists to change the hearts and minds of those who disagree with us. Debates, conferences, advertising, writing – pro-life Canadians have done it all, in the hopes that one day human life might be protected from conception unto natural death.

We’ve done it in the face of intense pressure to resign ourselves to the abortion status quo. Our opponents can’t even believe pro-lifers are still around and have even greater difficulty believing that young people and university students could ever be pro-life. For them, the debate ended in 1988, when the Supreme Court allowed for abortion in Canada without any restriction, throughout all nine months of pregnancy. The appalling statistics about abortion in Canada and around the world have barely registered in the consciousness of today’s pro-choice activists: that one in four unborn children will be aborted, including 90% of children prenatally diagnosed with Down’s syndrome, and a higher proportion of female children than male ones, seems quite unimportant to them and most of the mainstream media.

But, like it or not, the debate continues. It continues in families and amongst friends, in classrooms and in churches, and most poignantly, in the hearts and minds of vulnerable women who are faced with an unplanned pregnancy. And this continuation of the debate is the saving grace for the pro-life movement. Because it means that we’re still not comfortable with abortion – that ending the life of an unborn child still strikes us as morally troubling. For pro-lifers, this is cause for hope.

For pro-choicers, this apparently is cause for fear. Before our abortion debate even happened, dozens of major pro-choice activists rejected our club’s invitation to debate. We offered them the opportunity to confront a leading Canadian “anti-choicer” in an open forum, with a neutral moderator. Yet they said no: Dr. Kathryn Treehuba, a U of O professor and abortion provider; Dr. Fraser Fellow, a UWO professor and abortion provider; Joyce Arthur, of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada; Sandra Rogers, a U of O professor; Wayne Sumner, a U of T professor; Heather Holland, of Planned Parenthood Ottawa; representatives from Canadians for Choice, Action Canada for Population and Development and the Canadian Federation for Sexual Health – all of them refused to debate abortion.

So our club decided to hold them accountable. We put up controversial posters highlighting their refusal and wrote a letter to the editor of the student newspaper, making the debate invitation open to all comers. Eventually Jovan Morales, of the Atheist Community of the University of Ottawa, stepped up to the plate to represent the pro-choice side. It seemed for a moment that we would have a civil, if less than ideal, dialogue on abortion.

But it was not to be. Radical pro-choice activists, many of whom are associated with the Women’s Resource Centre of the Student Federation, decided to come out to our debate in force. This would have been great – if they were really there to engage in a reasoned debate. Instead, they brought their posters and their slogans and their raucous attitudes and little else. Holding signs that declared, “An egg is not a chicken” and “My Body/My Choice,” these activists heckled Ms. Gray, the pro-life speaker, menaced elderly debate attendees and shouted “bulls***” and “what the f***” in response to many of the points made by Ms. Gray. Particularly atrocious was the sign declaring, “I hope the foetus you ‘save’ is gay.” For the record, I wouldn’t mind at all.

But why were they so rude and disruptive? Why not just win the audience over with the logic and eloquence of the pro-choice message? I submit that their behaviour betrays the weakness of their own position. Perhaps it’s just the philosophy major in me, but “My Body/My Choice” is a far better slogan than logical argument. As Ms. Gray said: sure, I have freedom over my body – I can swing my arm, for example – but that freedom ends when it injures another person, e.g. swinging my arm to punch them in the face. When the right to choose ends the life of another person, we can and must restrict it. Similarly, it’s true that an egg is not a chicken, but a preborn child is not an egg – it is a fully human organism, genetically distinct and having within itself the means of its own continuance. Fallacies like the ones presented lie at the heart of pro-choice argumentation.

Now it is possible to be pro-choice and philosophically consistent: you simply have to believe that it is alright to kill innocent human beings simply for convenience’s sake. In my experience though, pro-choice people are just as kind and compassionate as pro-life ones. Few would adopt such a radical position. Instead, not being trained in critical reasoning and open to legitimate concerns of women facing unplanned pregnancy, many accept pro-choice fallacies to justify what is really the easy position on abortion. Pro-lifers recognize that women in need deserve real support and real options and the preborn deserve the most basic of rights – the right to life.

Strikingly, when Ms. Gray showed pictures of aborted children in her presentation, I detected a palpable sense of unease come over the pro-choice activists. Standing near their seats at back of the room, I heard them mutter “these aren’t real” and “it’s not true.” But sadly the images were – medically accurate filming of real, live abortion procedures. If they can’t bring themselves to accept the truth of what they support, then perhaps they aren’t as committed to pro-choice ideology as they would have you believe. And that, more than anything, is cause for hope.


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

Press Release: Calgary students take university to court over free speech

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Students take university to court over free speech

CALGARY: The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) today announced that members of Campus Pro-Life at the University of Calgary have gone to court to assert their campus free speech rights.

JCCF President John Carpay has defended the University of Calgary students’ free speech rights since 2007, and also defends the campus free speech rights of students at other universities.

The students and their lawyer will be available for media comment at the Courthouse in downtown Calgary at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday April 13, 2011.

Seven students are Applicants in an Originating Notice filed at the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench today.  Their application for judicial review asks the court to quash a University of Calgary decision that the students are guilty of “non-academic misconduct.”

In May of 2010, eight students were found guilty of “non-academic misconduct” for having set up a pro-life display on campus while refusing to comply with the university’s demand that their signs be set up in a circle facing inwards, such that people walking by could not see the signs.  This finding of guilt was upheld in January of 2011 by the university’s Board of Governors, which rendered its decision without scheduling a hearing to listen to the students’ appeal.

“The right to free expression simply cannot exist if citizens enjoy a legal right not to be disturbed or offended by speech – including images – that they do not wish to see.  The University of Calgary’s patronizing and paternalistic approach – trying to decide on behalf of students what they can and cannot see – has no place in a free society, especially not at a public university that is funded by Alberta taxpayers,” stated John Carpay.

The group’s display has been held on the University of Calgary grounds without incident eleven times since 2006, for two consecutive days each of those eleven times.  In 2009, the University charged six students with trespassing, but the Crown Prosecutors’ Office stayed these charges prior to trial, as the University of Calgary was not able to explain what rule, policy, regulation or by-law the students had violated.

The U of C has no objection to other graphic photos on campus.  For example, posters on campus from a pro-seatbelt group show a mutilated face that has gone through a windshield; the caption states “Without a seatbelt, things can get real ugly.”  Gory, disturbing photos of Falun Gong members tortured by the Chinese government are also tolerated on campus.

U of C President Dr. Elizabeth Cannon has continued her predecessor’s policy of suppressing free speech on campus.  The U of C claims that nobody should be “forced” to look at disturbing visual images, but this standard is not applied to photos of windshield-scarred faces, or torture victims.

The U of C boasts an annual budget of $1.09 billion, of which 60% comes from taxpayers.

For further information, contact: John Carpay, President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, (403) 619-8014.

 

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (www.jccf.ca) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to protecting constitutional freedoms through education and litigation.  The JCCF relies on voluntary donations from Canadians to provide citizens with pro bono legal representation in defence of free speech, and other constitutional freedoms.

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400 Protestors Expected at UBC’s Abortion Display

Press Release: Controversy Erupts at UBC

Bloody Abortion Signs Confront Students and Mob Responds
 
Vancouver, BC. On Thursday, March 10, a UBC student pro-life club, Lifeline, will re-open the abortion debate—-and it will be hard to ignore them.  The students will display eight 4×8-foot bloody images from the controversial Genocide Awareness Project (GAP: www.unmaskingchoice.ca/gap.html). The GAP graphically compares abortion to historical atrocities, such as the Holocaust, and his been met with resistance across North America.  In fact, a Facebook group (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/event.php?eid=167649023284651&index=1) opposing Lifeline’s display at UBC reports over 400 people plan to protest the event.

GAP will be displayed from 10am to 2pm at the SUB Lower Plaza, by East Mall Road (close to University Boulevard).  Lifeline president Ania Kasprzak says she hopes UBC won’t allow protesters to censor her group’s display:
“UBC’s own policy on academic freedom supports our right to express ourselves through GAP,” stated Kasprzak.  She quoted their policy which states, “Behaviour that obstructs free and full discussion, not only of ideas that
are safe and accepted, but of those which may be unpopular or even
abhorrent, vitally threatens the integrity of the University’s forum. Such behaviour cannot be tolerated.” 

Kasprzak continued, “A university is the marketplace of ideas and we want to use that platform to show that abortion is an act of violence that kills a baby.  We know this exhibit is effective at changing peoples’ minds because they’ve told us that.” 

In a 2008 Globe and Mail interview, UBC President Dr. Stephen Toope lamented that “in Canada we have seen many examples of students trying to
shut down speakers with whom they disagree.” Dr. Toope asserted that “the
role of the university is to encourage tough questioning, and clear expressions of disagreement, but not the ‘silencing’ of alternative views.”

 But one of the opponent’s to GAP, Anna Wärje, doesn’t want Lifeline’s message to be seen.  She posted the following on the growing “Protest GAP” Facebook group: “UBC is requiring us [Students for Reproductive Rights (SRR)] to stay 30 feet from the display and not block or impede the display in any way. Last year, UBC tried to make SRR admin responsible for outside parties blocking the display, but I am not taking that sh** this year. There is nothing illegal about blocking that display, and only UBC students are susceptible to ‘university discipline.’ So…if you’re not a UBC student, don’t even pay attention to this bullsh**. Or if you’re a UBC student who doesn’t care about the university’s disapproval of your conduct.” 

It remains to be seen whether UBC will intervene to stop the planned censorship-through-physical-obstruction of Lifeline’s display.  In March of last year when abortion advocates blocked Lifeline’s display, UBC security did not directly remove the censures; instead, they called in the RCMP.  But a video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89QICRBJ65o&feature=channel_video_title) shows police informing Lifeline’s opponents that they could continue to engage in this physical obstruction and suppress Lifeline’s speech. 

The GAP has been exhibited on or near campuses in BC, Alberta, Manitoba,
and Ontario.  Last October, Carleton Lifeline students were arrested when
they attempted to set the display up.
(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJkBQn1-r8&feature=channel_video_title).

GAP first appeared in Canada at UBC in November 1999 and it was violently
attacked by 3 UBC student leaders of the Alma Mater Society. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv7OCW1G0-M&feature=channel_video_title).

For further information contact Ania Kasprzak, Lifeline president, 778-982-1117 (cell). 

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University of Toronto Students for Life: Another Kind of Graphic Image

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

Hi folks, I was just reading the newspaper the other day and I came upon an article about cigarette packages. Apparently the government of Canada has imposed a new line of images on the front of them showing the various heath problems and diseases that can happen when one smokes cigarettes. They include a picture of a man dying of lung cancer, as well as reminders of how smoking can hurt both you and the people around you, as well as showing graphic images of lungs diseased by cancer and other disgusting images showing just how badly smoking can mess up your body. Now whatever your opinion on smoking is, I couldn’t help but compare this to the view that our society has taken to abortion. The government in this case forces cigarette companies to put graphic images of dying and dead people, as well as well as medical pictures of cancerous lungs, on the front of packages. In the case of abortion, a procedure with the actual purpose of killing another human being, people who disagree with it can actually be arrested for displaying graphic images which have been deemed “content disturbing or offensive to some people because of its graphic nature” on their own campus, miles away from the nearest abortion clinic. Or compare for a moment the big red sign on the front of cigarette packages that says “Cigarettes cause cancer” to the numerous medical studies linking abortion to breast cancer that have been unilaterally dismissed as junk science by the medical profession. Once again we see the hypocrisy of a society terrified of being labeled “anti-abortion”. Now, I say this in full knowledge of the fact that graphic images are some of the most controversial in the pro-life movement, and believe it or not I do see both sides of this issue. Many say that they are detracting from the real message and I get that. The most important thing is that we get our views out there, and to do this we need to have conversations with people, not gross them out. That being said, if anyone reading this ever does find themselves in a position where they are using graphic images in a protest and someone asks “How can you show such disgusting things” you might try pointing to the nearest cigarette package and asking them what they are really mad about. Just my opinion.


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

uOttawa Students For Life: What’s Wrong With an Emotional Response?

This post was written for uOttawa Students For Life by uOttawa Students For Life. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

by Kate Larson

The October 4th arrest of students at Carleton University about to take part in the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), the display of graphic posters comparing abortion to the Holocaust and similar atrocities, made me think about the use of images in discussions of abortion. At both this year’s and last year’s abortion debates hosted by Ottawa Students for Life, the pro-choice speakers re-iterated the common argument that the use of images of abortion in discussions of the subject is intellectually dishonest and emotionally manipulative. This implies a number of things: firstly that images are being used in place of logical arguments, rather than to enhance them or to promote discussion of them, secondly that words are somehow neutral and have no manipulative power of their own, and lastly that emotions have no place in just decision-making.

            The National Campus Life Network website is just one place where rational arguments against abortion are laid out clearly and compellingly. No images are used to fill logical holes. There are no holes to fill. As for the OSFL debates, full logical justification of the pro-life position was given. A short video was shown of an abortion being performed, and the audience was warned that it might be disturbing and that they were welcome to cover their eyes or turn away if they wished. The video did not substitute for any argument, but only served to remind the audience, if they chose to view it, of the reality of something that is too horrifying for words to adequately convey.

            This brings us to the emotional resonance of words. Words can be carefully chosen to increase or decrease the emotional impact of what a person is saying. They are certainly not mere servants of fact. One has only to consider how abortion is often referred to in society to see that. Terms such as “a woman’s right to choose” or umbrella terms such as “reproductive rights”, “reproductive freedom”, “reproductive choice”, and “body rights” are not factual references, they are names chosen to make the killing of babies sound positive, desirable, and even necessary. It seems to me there can be no intellectual honesty and lack of emotional manipulation in a position that doesn’t even properly name what it attempts to justify.

            Why do we debate issues such as abortion? We do so because we do not live by logic alone. The desire to make just decisions is motivated not by statistics or cost-benefit analysis but by love and compassion for others and hope that our society will be better for everyone if we do what is right and oppose what is wrong. Logical argument is important, but it is this love and compassion and hope that makes us more than automatons and ought to help ensure that we do not blithely allow innocent human beings to be killed. Of course people will have an emotional response to images of abortion: the images are awful. They are also real and no amount of rhetoric is going to make them seem positive, desirable, or necessary.


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.