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Reach Campuses, Change Canada: A Message for Every Pro-Life Post-Secondary Student

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

Canada’s pro-choice movement has been well-served by campuses.  Whether pro-choice or pro-life, campuses remain critical ground to take in the culture wars.  These venerable institutions are an engine for change and cultural transformation in our country – for better or for worse.

During a recent re-reading of Henry Morgentaler’s biography, I was struck by the manner in which universities were used to advance abortion on-demand.  As the Women’s Liberation Movement rose in the 60’s and 70’s, groups formed on campuses with abortion “rights” a core tenet of their mission.  They influenced the soon-to-be legislators, lawyers, doctors and educators.  They became legislators, lawyers, doctors and educators.  Even before the law changed, their associations, such as the Canadian Medical Association and the Canadian Bar Association, lobbied parliament to allow abortions.

And when Henry Morgentaler was arrested, “women across the country were politicized, activated” and able to spring to his support, says biographer Catherine Dunphy.[1]  And it was often university educated men and women – the business, arts, and political elites -that publicly or privately championed the cause, often funding and fundraising for it as well. photo 3

These days pro-choicers are calling on students to reclaim campuses for the cause.  A few years ago the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) began a student project, and Joyce Arthurs has served, she wrote in an ARCC newsletter, as a consultant for student unions nationally.  Their student coordinator even noted with concern that, “Canadian campuses have become hotbeds for anti-choice activities in recent years.”[2] 

But our goal is not to merely worry pro-choicers.  We still have a lot of work to do.  But as we return back to school – or start at university or college for the first time – we can find ourselves overwhelmed.  The fact is that there are many good and noble things that can occupy our thoughts and time.

When I started my degree at the University of Ottawa, pro-life activism was not on my radar.  I was pro-life, to be sure, but I was focused on getting my education, accomplishing my goals and ultimately doing good in the world after graduation.  None of this was bad, but I was missing something: the fact that Canadian campuses are mission fields desperate for the pro-life message and that I could do good here and now and not just after graduation.

Our campuses contain the age demographic upon which the most abortions are performed each year; our campuses contain Canada’s future leaders; our campuses affect Canadian culture.  And unless there is an active pro-life presence on a campus, students are exposed to only the pro-choice message.

This year, in particular, I have been impacted by the sad reality that we are a generation that has come of age in the 25 years since the R. v. Morgentaler Supreme Court decision.  We are a generation that has known nothing but unrestricted abortion on-demand.  We are survivors, with a quarter of our generation having lost their lives to abortion.

That is who we are and we didn’t have a choice, but who we can become is what we get to choose.  We have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that the next generation is not abandoned to the fate that ours suffered.

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The upcoming NCLN Symposium is entirely dedicated to forming student leaders who can lead Canada out of the shadows of R. v. Morgentaler.  This weekend’s theme is Out of the Shadows, and is open to all pro-life students in Canada as an incredible opportunity to be formed, educated, and equipped by top Canadian and American pro-life leaders as well as to connect with the cross-Canada Student Pro-Life Movement.

Many Canadian pro-lifers, including leaders such as the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform’s Stephanie Gray, Jonathon Van Maren and Maaike Rosendal, credit the Symposium with being “THE event” for pro-life students and “literally life changing” for them personally.

If you believe that abortion is the killing of innocent human beings, if you believe that women deserve better than abortion, and if you want to see Canadian culture respect life, it’s time to take action on campuses.  The Symposium is a great way to start.

I realize that I am asking you to let your heart break for injustice, over and over again.  I know that I am asking you to make a sacrifice and to take a risk.  But it is only in this way that we can move Canada out of the shadows and into the light of a Culture of Life. It starts with you; it starts with your campus.


[1] Catherine Dunphy.  Morgentaler: A Difficult Hero.  Toronto: Random House of Canada Ltd. 1996, pg. 100.

[2] Tara Paterson, “Pro-choice thinkers unite! A call-out for pro-active reproductive justice”. March 3 2012.

http://arccsynergy.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/pro-choice-thinkers-unite-a-call-out-for-pro-active-reproductive-justice/

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Morgentaler & My Generation

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

Recommit ourselves to a legacy of life - Copy small

 I should not have been looking at my phone as I walked down the stairs, for I nearly slipped and fell when a text message popped up on my screen: “Morgentaler died.”

My heart dropped.  As long as there is life, there is hope, and I sincerely hoped that Henry Morgentaler, Canada’s most prominent abortionist and abortion advocate, would experience repentance and conversion.  I held onto that hope because of what it would mean for the cause of life in Canada, but also for the sake of his own life and soul.

 I was shaken.  Morgentaler has always been a larger-than-life figure and often on my mind.  His biography sits on my bookshelf and, every time I see it, I recall the stories of his life that I read in those pages: the activist upbringing, the suffering of the Holocaust, his complicated relationships with women, his imprisonment, the Supreme Court decision, and the expansion of his clinics.  He remains an icon for abortion in Canada and the builder of a dark and blood-stained legacy that lives on, though he does not.

Like the rest of my generation, I  grew up in the shadow of the 1988 R. v. Morgentaler decision. The 25th anniversary of the Supreme Court case this past January 28th was a personal one for us.  It has defined us as survivors for, in a quarter century, a quarter of our generation has been wiped out by abortion.

We, as young people, have never known our nation without the dark shadow of abortion and the decision that allowed that shadow to persist.  We have never known Canada without Morgentaler.  He, now, may be gone from this earth, but abortion is not.  

 There has been, as was to be expected, a flurry of activity in the media as everyone weighs in on his legacy.  But let us not forget that unrestricted abortion in Canada has been the result of more than Henry Morgentaler.  It is the result of many committed activists, committed financial donors, judges, and politicians; but society is also complicit.  We began to lose in the court of public opinion before we lost in the court of law.

So, for us, Morgentaler’s death must not be simply a time for analysis.  It cannot be a time to sit back and merely approve or condemn his actions.  It must be a time when we recommit ourselves to action and transforming society.  We need to build a legacy of life that goes beyond having convictions and actually ends this injustice.   Being pro-life should be less of a label and more of a lifestyle.  

We have our work cut out for us, but we cannot shrink from the task we face.  A quarter of our generation is dead because of abortion and we cannot and will not abandon the next generation to the same fate.  I have said it before and I will say it again: Twenty-five years of R. v. Morgentaler is twenty-five years too long. This culture of abortion on demand may be a stubborn shadow, but we can cast it out if we shine all the brighter with the light of truth, love and life.

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Youth Protecting Youth: The Cost of Abortion

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by YPY Info Officer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Monday, January 28, 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the Morgentaler v. The Queen decision, in which the Supreme Court of Canada struck down Canada’s last law restricting abortions, effectively declaring open season on pre-born children and leaving them to defend themselves. Since that time abortion has been fully legal in Canada through all nine months of pregnancy, from fertilization until the child “has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother. But who has been paying for what the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada calls “reproductive freedom, and what has it cost them?

Pe-born children have been paying the price for this supposed fundamental human right. According to Statistics Canada and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, at least 2,263,482 pre-born babies have paid for our “right to choose” with their lives since the Morgentaler decision. Many more deaths are unaccounted for, due to lack of reporting. Because of their age and level of development, they don’t have a voice of their own, and their silent screams have gone unheeded; the horrific images of their broken bodies are their last cry for us to stop paying the bills with their lives. But even with all of their blood, there have been expenses yet unpaid, and others have been forced to cover the costs that remain.

Next on the list of people who have paid for the consequences of this court decision are the women and men who have been affected by abortion. Though organizations such as Silent No More Awareness Campaign have been established to support those who now regret their abortions, countless women and men have been forced to silently endure the pain of realizing what abortion meant for their pre-born child.

Lastly, we as taxpayers have by and large been the ones to front the money for abortions in our respective provinces. With the exception of Prince Edward Island, where abortions are not performed, Canada’s provincial governments pay for abortions with taxpayers’ money, and it is conservatively estimated that $80 million is spent each year to pay for the one hundred thousand or so abortions that are performed nation-wide annually.

Bearing these things in mind, let us critically consider whether or not the purchase has been worth its price, because the cost will keep rising unless we change things, and we know who will have to keep paying the tab.


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.