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.)