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National Campus Life Network > Blog > Rebecca Richmond

U of G Life Choice: Press Release: Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

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

March 14, 2012: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

Toronto, ON: This March, two Ontario university clubs are hosting abortion debates on campus, but pro-choicers have been unwilling to debate.  Despite contacting over 120 professors, feminist organizations, and abortion advocacy groups, Guelph Life Choice and McMaster Lifeline have been unable to find anyone willing to debate.  Pro-life students from McMaster and Guelph are now issuing a public challenge to pro-choice proponents (specifically professors, doctors, clinic workers, and advocates from pro-choice organizations), inviting them to defend their position on abortion and join in an open and respectful debate.

“There’s been great student interest in having this debate,” states Hanna Barlow, President of the University of Guelph Life Choice.  “But everyone we’ve contacted to represent the pro-choice side has either rejected the invitation or simply ignored it.  It’s very disappointing.”

With the debate scheduled for the end of the month, Guelph Life Choice contacted the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) from the student union for help finding a pro-choice advocate.  They declined, stating, “We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is [sic] something that should be debated because we see ‘pro-choice’ as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable.”

“Unwillingness to debate is something we’ve seen before on other campuses,” states Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director for the National Campus Life Network, a national pro-life student organization.   “Despite accusations from pro-choicers that we’re closed minded and backwards, they are the ones who keep rejecting our offers to engage in dialogue.”

“Anyone who holds a belief on an issue must have evidence to back up their belief,” states Julia Bolzon, President of McMaster Lifeline.  “If pro-choicers are confident in their position, then they should be willing to defend it in a debate.  We hope pro-choicers will rise to the challenge.”

 

For more information or for those interested in representing the pro-choice side of the debate, contact:

Julia Bolzon – President McMaster Lifeline, 647 221 0912, jbolzon@gmail.com

Hanna Barlow – President Guelph Life Choice, 519 830 9072, hannabarlow@gmail.com

Rebecca Richmond – Executive Director, National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 director@ncln.ca

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Read the comments at the U of G Life Choice website.

Symmetry & Synergy

By Rebecca Richmond

The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada (ARCC) started a student project a few years ago called ‘Synergy’, or the Student and Youth Network for Reproductive Justice, and a post on their website caught my eye last week because the author made a number of points that I actually agreed with.  Surprising?  No, not really.

Consider that our two organizations, despite being on opposite sides of “reproductive justice” issues, exist for similar purposes. Both Synergy and NCLN exist to help network and support efforts across the country at the post-secondary level.  Naturally, both organizations believe strongly that the university environment is a critical place to promote our cause and both Tara Paterson, the article’s author, and I both emphasize the importance of being active on issues of injustice.

Tara, Synergy’s Student Network Coordinator and the Chair of the University of Victoria Students’ Society (not our favourite student union), points to the growing momentum of pro-life activities on university campuses (“hotbeds for anti-choice activities”) and the fact that, historically, activism on universities was a significant part of the pro-choice movement.  “The shift,” she writes, “from campus as a hub for pro-choice activity to one where anti-choice clubs monopolize a lot of student media and politics is worth noting.  We have a unique opportunity here to reclaim the campus as a site of political organizing for reproductive justice.”  So although I believe we are still far from “monopolizing” campuses, Tara and I both identify universities as critical ground to take in the fight for justice and human rights

Unfortunately, Tara failed to understand the purpose of some of the projects used on campus, such as those used by the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.  She also errs in her description of Carleton Lifeline’s lawsuit against the administration.  And I will not bother to address her laughable statement that, “the anti-choice lobby is a well-funded machine backed by right-wing bigwigs and the Catholic Church.” (But if anyone knows a right-wing bigwig with deep pockets and a hankering to support a worthy pro-life organization, please send them our way.)

But Tara is absolutely right to insist upon a pro-active stance when it comes to fighting injustice.  She calls pro-choice students to action.  As pro-lifers, we need to bear this in mind as well.  If our position on abortion is just that – simply a belief that abortion is wrong – then we will never end this atrocity in our country and we will never succeed in building a society that respects and affirms the value and dignity of every human life.  But if our respect for human life and our love of our fellow human beings flows into pro-life action, then consider the impact that would have!

And like Tara, we too should “grow our networks, hold events, share resources and otherwise inspire our campuses.”  We must continue and increase our activities.  Synergy may accuse us of ‘taking it upon ourselves to offend them’, but the reality is that abortion IS, itself, offensive because it takes the life of an innocent human being.   And while both Tara and I may share a passion for ‘justice’, we must root that justice in an objective morality that ensures that all human beings, regardless of their size, location, dependence or development, are given human rights.  Without this, Synergy’s call to action does not right an injustice, but, sadly deepens and perpetuates one.

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uOttawa Students For Life: Choosing Love on Valentine’s Day

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

Head on over to NCLN for a great post on Valentine’s Day by uOSFL alumnus Rebecca Richmond!

Love wants the highest good for the other person. As such, love is not self-serving, but is oriented towards the other. It is more than a onetime proclamation or commitment, but rather is revealed in our daily actions as we serve others.


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

Choosing Love on Valentine’s Day

By Rebecca Richmond, NCLN Executive Director

(This post originally appeared in our weekly email for pro-life campus leaders: Campus Connections.  If you are a student and interested in joining our weekly email list, please contact your local NCLN staff member to be added!)

All I wanted was a coffee, but apparently the inundation of pink, red, flowers, hearts, and bare-bummed cupids was complimentary.  As if I could have missed the frenzied advertising leading up to today!

And while retailers celebrate record chocolate sales, we can take the opportunity to think about love.  As pro-lifers, love is, after all, at the core of who we are and what we do.  True love, that is, and not merely mushy, gushy, chocolate-filled, candy-coated sentiments.  Chocolates and candy hearts are nice and spending time with those we love is good, but we can best remember the self-sacrificing life of the day’s namesake by putting our heart into helping others each and every day.

Not much is known for certain about St. Valentine.  He was martyred for refusing to recant his beliefs and for assisting his Christian brethren during the persecution of the Church under the Emperor Claudius II in 269 A.D.   Yet this knowledge alone is enough, for it speaks of the true nature of love.

Love wants the highest good for the other person.  As such, love is not self-serving, but is oriented towards the other.  It is more than a onetime proclamation or commitment, but rather is revealed in our daily actions as we serve others.

Consider a mom with her baby.  Loving her baby doesn’t mean making a proclamation every now and again.  Loving her baby involves the everyday duties: feeding (even at obscene hours of the morning), cleaning, rocking, and playing.  It means sleepless nights and dirty diapers.

Similarly, our love of preborn children and the women and men facing unplanned pregnancies cannot be a simple avowal.  Our love must manifest itself in the everyday things we do and say: speaking up for Life in class, doing  the necessary tasks to host an abortion debate, staying strong even amid persecution from the student union, or having a  conversation with a  friend or family member.

Growing up, my parents often told me that love was a choice and not simply a feeling (this lesson probably saved my little brother from getting whacked over the head many a time….  It also probably saved me from his revenge when he surpassed me in height and strength).

So today, amid the swirl of chocolate-filled and candy-coated feelings, let us make choices.  Let us choose Life each and every day.  Let us love.

 

 

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Press Release: Student Union applies double standard to pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Student Union applies double standard to pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick (Fredericton)

Dec. 19, 2011. Fredericton, New Brunswick:  Pro-life students at the University of New Brunswick’s (UNB) Fredericton campus were shocked last week to learn from their student newspaper, The Brunswickan, that their club would not be recognized by the Student Union due to a “lack of information”.

“The whole situation has been incredibly frustrating,” says Amanda Magee, the President of UNB Students for Life.  “We have given the Student Union information.  We have offered to be present to answer questions.”

UNB Students for Life applied for club status in October, not anticipating any issues given that a pro-life club is active at the UNB Saint John campus and had also existed at the Fredericton campus only a few years previous.  When their contact on council, Andrew Martel, requested additional information from the club, they replied, ensuring that the information would be received before the next Council meeting on November 20th.  Despite this, Andrew Martel stated at the meeting, according to the Nov. 20th minutes, that he did not receive any information from the club.

“We’ve had to rely on the student newspaper and the minutes of the meetings to piece things together,” adds Magee.  “And the Dec. 4th minutes still aren’t available so we’re not entirely sure what happened.”

What is clear is that the pro-life nature of the club has some Councillors concerned.  Some Councillors said that club would be “contentious” and “inviting debate”.  Others, such as Jordan Thompson, the President of the Council, stated that, “the Student Union is not the moral police. As long as the clubs and societies are functioning with certain conduct, it is not our prerogative to judge them on our certain beliefs.”

“It’s a double standard,” comments Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network.  “Simply browse through the listing of clubs on campus and you’ll find clubs with controversial positions.  The Council has asked for additional information; what they need is information concerning what the role of a student union is and is not.  Determining which views are accepted and which are discriminated against is not part of their mandate.”

UNB Students for Life will be addressing the issue at the next Council meeting in January.

“We have a right to be on campus,” asserts Magee.  “Issues like abortion should be discussed and debated.  Resources on positive alternatives should be promoted.  All we want is the same rights as other clubs so we can do these things on campus.”

For more information, contact Amanda Magee, UNB Students for Life President, 506 852 4399.

For additional comment, contact Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 (office), 416 388 0461 (cell).

National Campus Life Network is a national pro-life organization that exists to educate, network and support pro-life post-secondary students across Canada.

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Further Information

Prepared December 18th, 2011

  • Oct. 14th: University of New Brunswick (Fredericton) Students for Life submitted their application for club status to the Student Union. The application complied with the clubs and societies policy.
  • Nov. 6th: Student Union council members begin deliberations on whether or not to grant status to the club (Minutes are available online at http://www.unbsu.ca/content/240480 Discussions concerning the club begin on page 15).
  • Concerned that the club could be “controversial”, “touchy” and “negative”, the council resolved to ask for additional information and defer the decision until the next meeting.
  • Nov. 14th: The club receives a request for additional information from Andrew Martel and replied on Nov. 18th.
  • Nov. 20th: Student Union councillors resume debate concerning the club (see minutes at http://www.unbsu.ca/content/240480, starting on pg 14).
    • Andrew Martel, the Vice-President Finance and Operations, stated that he contacted the club for more information and did not hear back from them.
    • Councillors raised objections to the club as it would be a “single issue” club with “political will or intention” (Councillor Gormal-Asal, pg 14), “contentious” and “inviting debate” (Gorman-Asal, pg 15), and potentially disseminating “misinformation” for the pregnancy centre (Glenwright, pg 15).  Other council members stated that the student union should not be a “morality police” (Chamberlain-Boyle, pg 14, and Thompson, pg 15).
    • The issue was deferred until more information about the club was presented.
  • Nov. 23rd: An article in The Brunswickan reports on the debate.  http://thebruns.ca/articles/49984 This is the first the club has heard of the situation.
  • Nov. 24th: The club emailed Andrew Martel, expressing their concern with the manner in which their application was being debated and including additional information on the club. A meeting with the Student Union was requested.
  • Nov. 28th:  Andrew Martel responded by email.  He stated he would provide the responses to the Council that Sunday and suggested that the club attend the meeting so as to answer questions.  The club immediately replied, requesting information on how to find the meeting.  A follow-up email was also sent shortly thereafter, but no answer was received.  As such, no members of the club attended the meeting.
  • December 4th student union meeting. (Minutes for the Dec. 4th meeting are not yet online.)
  • Dec. 5th: Andrew Martel contacted the club by email, requesting further information on what groups and centres the club would be referring students to for help with unplanned pregnancies or post-abortion counselling. The club replied on the same day with additional details and links to the centres’ websites.
  • Dec. 7th: An article in The Brunswickan reported that the club had been denied status at the Dec. 4 meeting, citing “insufficient information from the club.”  In the article, Andrew Martel stated that if more information from the club is received, he will bring it forward.  The information that is needed  is “where the resources are coming from and where they will be directing students.”  http://thebruns.ca/articles/50519
  • Dec. 14th: An email is received from Andrew Martel, informing the group that their information was submitted too late for the last meeting (although additional information had been provided on Nov. 28th, a week before the Dec. 4th meeting).  He will bring forward information from the Dec. 5th email at a January meeting.

 

Update:  Media Coverage of the Situation

LifeSiteNews.com:  http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/u-new-brunswick-student-union-denies-club-status-to-pro-life-students

Pro-Woman Pro-Life: http://www.prowomanprolife.org/2011/12/19/bumpy-beginnings/


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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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NCLN on The Arena with Michael Coren: Video Clip

On Friday September 2nd, Rebecca Richmond, NCLN’s Executive Director, appeared briefly as a guest on Michael Coren’s new Sun News Network talk show The Arena.

To watch the video clip, click the link below:

Minority View: The Arena with Michael Coren

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NCLN to Appear on ‘The Arena with Michael Coren’ Friday

Tune in this Friday September 2nd to Michael Coren’s new show on the Sun News Network.  Rebecca Richmond, NCLN’s Executive Director, will be appearing on the show as a guest to discuss the issue of abortion.  The Arena with Michael Coren premiered on Tuesday August 30 as a prime time talk show on the network, offering discussion and analysis of controversial issues and current events.

The show will air at 7 p.m. EST.  For more information on the show or on show times in other time zones, please visit their website.

Sun News Network is available on the below channels.  You can also tune in online and watch the show with live streaming.  Videos from the show are also available after the show airs.

Shaw Digital – Channel 177

Shaw Direct – Channels 149 and 517

Rogers in Toronto – Channel 15

Rogers in Ottawa – Channels 66 or 142

Shaw Cable Hamilton – Channel 21

Cogeco Cable Hamilton – Channel 16

Videotron – Channels 79 and 679

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