uOttawa Students For Life: The Fetus is Not a Parasite

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

by Angela Hardy

“Le foetus n’est pas un parasite” – “The fetus is not a parasite,” our professor reminded us over and over again during the pre-natal lecture of our life cycle nutrition course here at the University of Ottawa.

This parasitic notion of pregnancy is disconcerting at best, but the fact remains that there have previously been misunderstandings surrounding the distribution of nutrients and energy to the fetus during a pregnancy. The medical definition of parasite is compound, i.e. a definition with two necessary parts. It implies not only that an organism is “living in, with, or on another organism” – a point that would apply in the case of a fetus, but also that that existence entails a degree of harm or is a detriment to the host, i.e. a parasite as a cause of disease.1 The parasitic notion of pregnancy is based on the misconception that the needs of the fetus take precedence over those of the mother, thus putting the mother at risk of inadequate amounts of energy and nutrients. For any human being, an inadequate absorption of nutrients is at the root of many diseases and health complications. If the precedence of the fetus were the mechanism at play during pregnancy, there would be a possibility that the presence of the fetus were causing a degree of harm to the mother, and the argument for a parasitic notion of pregnancy could be re-assessed. However, this phenomenon has been scientifically disproven.

The nutritional status of a pregnant woman is determined first and foremost by the foods and supplements that she ingests. Her needs are fulfilled prior to the allocation of nutrients to the fetus. Some very interesting studies on this topic have been conducted based on the statistics of the Dutch famine of 1944-45. The disruption in the nutritional status of the mothers was, on average, no more severe than that of other non-pregnant women who lived through the famine. However, the adverse effects on the fetuses carried by these pregnant women had long-term consequences which are under study to the present day. Even at critical windows of fetal development, the required nutrients were not delivered to the fetus until the mother’s requirements had been fulfilled. Many consequences have been identified as a result of the allocation of nutrients to the bodies of pregnant mothers before the children in their wombs.2, 3

So what does all this mean to the pro-life cause? Is the fact that the fetus is not a parasite one more set of attestable facts we can add to our reserve of pro-life apologetics? Does it boil down to the reassurance that science is “on our side”? Although these and many other compelling facts about fetal development are invaluable to the movement, the bare truth remains that abortion is not only about facts. It is about people. It is about human beings. Most specifically, it is about two human beings – a woman and the child within her womb. When a woman finds herself in a crisis pregnancy situation, it is not likely Dutch famine statistics and nutrient battles that overwhelm her thoughts. It is the stress of her present situation, the undeniable attachment to her child, and the questions about the future of herself and her child. She may be struggling with very real personal difficulties, to which we may or may not be able to relate. As pro-lifers, we must not judge and condemn, but rather offer our compassion and support. The real and ultimate goal of our efforts is that mother and baby will both make it through those nine months – alive!

1 Parasite. Merriam-Webster Dictionary online
2 Prenatal nutrition and the human fetus. Nutr Rev. 1971 Sep;29(9):197-9.
3 Effects of prenatal exposure to the Dutch famine on adult disease in later life: an overview. Twin Res. 2001 Oct ;4(5):293-8.

Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

uOttawa Students For Life: Parenthood and Education: Must we choose between the two?

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

by Thien-An Nguyen

After finishing a relatively brutal midterm, I was having a nice chat with one of my classmates. During our conversation, I learned that he had been a part-time student for more than half my life, and the reason for this long-term relationship with a Bachelor’s degree (as opposed to the standard four years) was that at the start of his post-secondary career, he had a daughter. As a result of her existence, he put his studies on hold for a while, and returned occasionally to pursue his love of learning. I was inspired by his dual commitment to his studies and to his family despite the obstacles.

That conversation got me thinking. Conventional wisdom tells us that there’s a dichotomy between education and family, that you can’t have both. Yet, the university campus is changing. It’s not just the domain of recent high school graduates. Education should be for people from all walks of life, including those caring for their families and, significantly, young single parents. Realistically, this means providing a variety of resources for pregnant women and single parents, such as campus day cares and classes offered online, at night, or on the weekend. In some respects, the University of Ottawa is not doing too poorly, with an on-campus daycare known as Garderie Bernadette Child Care Centre, though other resources could be improved, such as financial aid and scholarships and perhaps even a babysitter referral service.

Check out the deVeber Institute’s study on the availability of resources on Canadian university campuses for pregnant women and single-parent families and see how the University of Ottawa compares to other post-secondary institutions.

Pregnant women and single-parent families should not be forced to sacrifice their education for their families or the reverse. An accessible campus should also mean one that is conducive and open to parenting students.

Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

Logic and Hearts

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

The tea cups went down at Tim Hortons and the debate started.  We’re good friends and old friends and yet we had always side-stepped the issue.  She was outraged at the Carleton arrests and any sort of infringement of pro-lifers’ free speech rights, but she didn’t agree with me on the issue.

“I’m pro-choice,” my friend explained.  “I don’t think abortion should be used as birth control.  If I got pregnant, I’d have the baby.  But in the case of rape, I don’t think the woman should be forced to endure that for nine months.  I can’t tell her what to do in that circumstance.”

The conversation unfolded in the typical way, (for the pro-life position against abortion even in the case of rape, please see this link) but eventually we reached an impasse.  She admitted she didn’t know exactly what the preborn child was.  She agreed it was killing but…  When she walked right into a logical flaw, she admitted it.  But…

“A woman with a born child can give it up; there’s a system in place to help.  But with pregnancy, she alone deals with that.”

“But why does that give her a right to kill?”

She admitted that she wanted the number of abortions to decrease.  She thought the reality of abortion in Canada is far from ideal,  in terms of reasons for it, the lack of informed consent, and the lack of support systems to help woman keep their children.

“So you disagree with most abortions that are happening but why?” I asked.  “Why do you care about them when you don’t even know what they are?”

“Look, purely based on logic, yeah, what you said makes sense.  But there’s more to it than just logic.”

“Yes, I absolutely agree with you in terms of logic,” piped up another friend.  “In terms of logic, I’m on your side.  But there’s also the emotional side to it.”

The discussion ended abruptly and we parted ways.  If this had been a formal debate with a judge keeping score, I would have won.  I had made a clear, coherent and logical case for the pro-life position, a fact conceded by my friends.

But winning arguments doesn’t matter and I don’t care what a judge would think of how I argued.  All the logic in the world can’t move a heart that doesn’t want to move.  Perhaps my words planted seeds; perhaps progress was made.  Perhaps.  Maybe all I have left is to not waver in my commitment to the cause, regardless of the sacrifices it requires.  My words can’t change a heart, but perhaps the way I live my life can.


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Adoption Campaign Launches

An adoption campaign has launched, providing information and resources for women who may be facing an unexpected pregnancy.

As the website mentions,

“How many women in Canada choose adoption? Over 60% of pregnancies result in the woman choosing to parent and 40% end in abortion, but only 2% of all pregnancies will lead to an adoption. The unfortunate truth is that many people have not heard about the many positive results of adoption, and don’t know about the help that is available for mothers-to-be who go through the adoption process.”

This campaign features:

The campaign also debunks myths about adoption, demonstrating that adoption is not abandonment, deception or an unbearable sacrifice.

Anastasia Bowles, the project director, in an interview for Lifesitenews.com stated:

“Birth parents deserve all of the information available about this choice [adoption],” said project director, Anastasia Bowles. “They need to know that times have changed. They need to know that open adoption — where the birth parents select the adoptive families and negotiate future contact and involvement — is common practice today. They need to know that there is help for them and there are people who will support them.”

“We hope to change attitudes with this campaign,” Bowles added, saying that adoption is a “difficult, but heroic, choice.” She lamented the fact that in the past “adoptions were secret, shame-filled proceedings,” and that “adoptees and adoptive parents often suffer due to painful misconceptions and negative stereotypes.”

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Roxanne’s Law (Bill C-510) Update

By Garnet Van Popta

Garnet Van Popta is an alumnus of uOttawa Students For Life and a guest blogger for NCLN.  He is currently studying at Humber College.
N.B.  The views expressed by guest bloggers do not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

A debate on Bill C-510 is scheduled for Monday’s (November 1st) session of Parliament. A vote on the bill is scheduled for December. Bill C-510, also called Roxanne’s Law, is a private member’s bill introduced by Rod Bruinooge, an MP from Winnipeg.

Essentially, the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code would criminalize the act of coercing a woman to have an abortion against her will. Under this law, a pregnant woman could press charges against a boyfriend, parent or someone else who attempts to coerce her into having an abortion. There is an exception for physicians who might counsel a woman to have an abortion to protect her life.

For the full text of the bill, click here.
This bill has proven to be controversial, even among pro-life people.  Some say it’s useless; some say it’s not enough. The fact is, however, that this bill may save the lives of unborn children, and may prevent a woman from having an abortion against her will. It may have saved Roxanne Fernando’s life.
We need to get educated about this bill, and support it. Start a letter-writing campaign. Attend the parliamentary debate (this might be easier for clubs in the Nation’s Capital). Spread awareness on your campus. As MP Bruinooge says in the video, the only way this bill will pass is if the people of Canada speak out about the value of human life.
For more information, check out www.RoxannesLaw.ca.

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University of Toronto Students for Life: And now a public announcement

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

Brought to you by our good friend Madeleine Gubbels:

The University of Toronto is offering information sessions on pregnancy,
giving birth, and parenting during this school year (2010/11). To register,
follow this link: http://www.familycare.utoronto.ca/events/#Moms-to-Be

*Expectant & New Moms’ Group
*Dates: Wednesdays, twice a month, as per the dates below
Time: 3:30 to 5:00 pm
Location: TBA

Are you pregnant or have recently given birth? Do you feel like there are
many things you would like to learn about your body, your baby, and what
comes next? Learn more about pregnancy and life with a new baby with guest
speakers, other moms-to-be and new moms. Ask questions, relax and chat about
what is important for you now.

Come to:

- gain insight into various aspects of pregnancy, including: health,
nutrition, changes in your developing body, emotional and physical changes,
labor and delivery, and post-partum issues.
- find support and access resources.
- exchange ideas and stories regarding various aspects of pregnancy and
life with baby.

Pregnant & postnatal students, staff, faculty, postdoctoral fellows and
their babies are welcome to attend. Pre-registration required. Expectant and
New Moms’ Group is a collaborative initiative of the Family Care Office and
the Lawrence Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing.

Program Facilitators: Jody Macdonald, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing
and Kathryn Haworth, Health Promotion Coordinator, Health Services, Student

Session dates and its themes:

September 29 – *Stages of Pregnancy* (Facilitator: Dr. Geraldine MacDonald,
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing)

October 13 – *Birthing Hopes & Fears* (Facilitator: Dr. Geraldine MacDonald,
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing)

October 27 – *Pregnancy and Relationships: Keeping them Healthy* (Cheryl
Champagne, CAPS)

November 10 – Sharing experiences & stories on birthing and babies
(facilitated by a past group participant)

November 24 – *Feeding Your Baby* (Facilitator: Dr. Geraldine MacDonald,
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Nursing)


January 12 – Sharing experiences & stories on birthing and babies
(facilitated by a past group participant)

January 26 – *Breastfeeding 101* (Guest speaker: Dr. Jack Newman, M.D.)

February 9 – Sharing experiences & stories on birthing and babies
(facilitated by a past group participant)

February 23 – *How To Care For Self and The Baby* (Guest Speaker: TBA)

March 16 – Sharing experiences & stories on birthing and babies (facilitated
by a past group participant)
March 30 – *Adjustment to Life With Baby* (Guest Speaker: TBA)

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

University of Toronto Students for Life: “We Would Welcome another Child with Down Syndrome”

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

Last week, a remarkable article was posted in the New York Times, by a mother who had refused prenatal testing during her pregnancy. The woman in question, Amy Becker, is the mother of a child with Down syndrome and has recently discovered that her 3rd child to be born is 1/100 likely to also have Down syndrome.

I recall my high school teacher asking my class one day, “Have you kids noticed the significant decrease of down-syndrome children over the years?” It was later that I discovered that this was not because scientists had found some miraculous cure for the chromosomal disease, but rather an alternative to the problem: death. This death is a choice made by several fearing mothers who are faced with the legal and ‘perfectly safe’ option of killing their child.

Prenatal diagnostic testing is composed of several tests during the course of the gestational period that allows the doctor to examine the fetus before birth and inform the mother of any deformations or chronic diseases, such as Down syndrome. Originally, these tests were administered to mentally prepare the woman for what was to come, and in this case, prenatal testing was more helpful than harmful. However, 80-90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome during prenatal testing are aborted (says Sam Brownback, past US Senator).

Amy states her biggest fear as she walked into the doctor’s office was not finding out whether the baby in her womb had an abnormal count of chromosomes, but rather talking to the doctor himself about prenatal testing:

[When pregnant with her second child] I agreed to an ultra-screen…I told myself that I wanted to know if the baby had a healthy heart. But the literature about the test explains that…it wasn’t offering me a chance to know the physical health of my baby so much as providing me a choice about whether to continue my pregnancy if the baby had Down syndrome.

Even Senator Brownback, in his PRENATALLY DIAGNOSED CONDITIONS AWARENESS ACT in 2005 states, “We don’t want a world where parents feel driven to justify their children’s existence.”

Prenatal testing is given as a recommended option simply to put the mother’s future in front of her and ask a very simple question: “Yes, or no?” In other words, “Is this child worth your time, or would you like to try again another time?” Without denying the hardships and sacrifices of having a child with Down syndrome, Amy continues to talk about her friends’ experiences as well as her own with doctors who pressure women to abort. If euthanasia was not enough to eliminate the “burdensome” in society, eugenics certainly is not far behind.

The way these tests are administered, the way information is provided to women and the way our culture talks about individuals with chromosomal abnormalities, contribute to my concern that prenatal testing more often serves to devalue all human life and to offer parents and doctors an illusion of control.

I strongly encourage you to read Amy’s very reasonable testament to society’s misinformed view of the “horror” of Down syndrome. She is one of few who manage to see the positive light that comes out of sacrifice, and that every life is a life worth living.

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