University of Guelph Life Choice: Email from Student Help and Advocacy Centre

This post was written for University of Guelph Life Choice by University of Guelph Life Choice. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

This is the response from the Student Help and Advocacy Centre, after Hanna Barlow, President of Guelph Life Choice, requested their help in finding someone to represent the pro-choice position in the March 27th debate.

 Hi Hannah,

Thank you for contacting the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) at the Central Student Association (CSA). Unfortunately, SHAC is unwilling to participate in this kind of debate due to our "Declaration of Rights of the Woman Student" policy from the CSA that I have copied and pasted below. We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is something that should be debated because we see "pro-choice" as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to e-mail shacedu@uoguelph.ca.


Alexandra Holtom
Education and Events Coordinator
Student Help and Advocacy Centre
University Centre Level 2
University of Guelph


The Central Student Association endorses and will work to enact the following Declaration of Rights of the Woman Students:

1. All women have the right to freedom of choice of lifestyle, employment and education as full and equal participants in Canadian society.

2. All women have the right to access to post-secondary education.

3. All women have the right to employment, and the right to equal opportunity to employment with equal pay for work of equal value.

4. All women have the right of access to quality, fully government subsidized child care, provided by adequately trained and paid child care workers, since access to education is limited by lack thereof.

5. The right to a financial student assistance program which meets the needs of full-time, part-time, and single parent students, the majority of whom are women, and which does not require dependence on their parents or spouse.

6. The right to concrete programs for re-entry of women into post-secondary education to aid women in overcoming the barriers of interrupted studies and inadequate backgrounds.

7. The right to academic counseling which informs women of all educational and employment opportunities available in order to actively combat streaming of women into traditional fields.

8. The right of women students to organize since women’s organizations within the student movement are necessary to actively raise the issues faced by women students, to provide a place for women to develop organizational and political skills and to provide a forum where women can develop a sense of unity and co-operation.

9. The right of women students to a students’ union which recognizes, promotes and funds a women’s organization on campus to facilitate involvement in women’s issues.

10. The right to an education through non-sexist instruction, textbooks and materials, recognizing that some literature and materials must be viewed relative to their historical or social context but that all instruction, contemporary textbooks and materials should be free of sexual stereotyping and discrimination.

11. The right to an educational environment free of advertisement , entertainment programming and/or materials which promote violence against women, sexual stereotyping and discrimination.

12. The right to government-funded women’s studies courses in post-secondary institutions.

13. The fundamental right of all women to control their bodies:

a) access to safe, reliable birth control and family planning information and the right of choice in the method;

b) freedom of choice choosing one’s stance in the matter of abortion;

c) access to quality health services and counseling which meet the needs of women students and respect a woman’s control of her body;

d) freedom of expression of sexual orientation;

e) freedom from sexual assault and all other forms of violence.

14. The right to an educational environment free of sexual harassment.

15. The right to effective, legal and academic grievance procedures recognized by students, faculty and support staff.

16. The right to celebrate International Women’s Day on campus.

(January 1994)

Read the comments at the University of Guelph Life Choice website.

Life Fair Attracts Attention at Guelph

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

March has been a busy month for pro-life students from coast-to-coast as they’ve hosted large events to educate their campus on life issues.  At the University of Guelph, the pro-life club, Guelph Life Choice, hosted a Life Fair with fetal development information.  Their displays attracted some counter-protesters but that didn’t prevent many interested students from stopping by to learn more, many of whom engaged in good discussions on the issue of abortion with the club members.

The event also attracted media attention from the campus paper and the campus radio station.  The campus paper interviewed the club as well as the organizer of the pro-choice counter-protest, who is also the Student Association Local Affairs Commissioner.  What I thought was interesting was that the pro-choice organizer  “helped in putting together the pro-choice display with the support of the CSA, the Wellness Centre and other community groups”, clearly showing the support the pro-choice movement has on campus.

The organizer was quite concerned with Life Choice’s material and images (aka. fetal development pictures) and was quoted as saying,

“I think my primary concern is that it could be really triggering for people….Then to have displays like this, that kind of drive home those messages [that] this is something you should feel guilty about, this is something you should feel ashamed of, that you’ve made the wrong decision. That’s kind of my primary concern, [that] the students who have had abortions, or who are pro-choice, feel isolated and made to feel guilty and ashamed of who they are and the experiences that they’ve had…”

(I would like to know if they also organize pro-choice displays during classes on embryology or human development, or any class that would include pictures or descriptions of fetal development….)

She is correct though, in so far as fetal development photos can be triggers for those who have undergone abortions.  But post-abortive women also are triggered by children, dates (like the due date for their unborn child), the sight of doctors, the sound of a vacuum, and the list goes on.  Angelina Steenstra, for example, in an interview on Roadkill Radio, described how she avoided the dentist for years because it triggered memories of her abortion.

But the issue is not the trigger but the trauma of the abortion that they underwent.  Those triggers can be painful but that does not mean we can hide the issue so as to avoid offending someone.  In fact, those moments are opportunities for women (and men) to stop and deal with the pain of her (their) abortions.  Life Choice, like all other clubs, is not interested in condemning but in educating, which includes offering help to post-abortive men and women as they grapple with their pain.

The event attracted the attention of the campus radio station which then did a full hour show on the issue of abortion, interviewing Hanna Barlow, President of Guelph Life Choice, myself, and pro-choice representatives.  (The show can be heard here.)

(Pictures of the event to come.)

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