National Campus Life Network > Blog > Rebecca Richmond

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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PRESS RELEASE: New Network for High School Pro-Lifers Launched

Toronto, March 30th, 2011 – On Thursday March 24th, the Toronto Right to Life Association (TRL) and National Campus Life Network (NCLN) unveiled a new resource for high school pro-lifers in Canada.  This project, Student Life Link, is a network and resource for high school students to encourage the formation and development of pro-life high school clubs.

Student Life Link features a website containing resources, contacts, speaker suggestions and motivation for students and teachers to start pro-life clubs at their schools.  A Facebook page and group will enable students to share ideas, news, and connect with one another.

Lia Mills, who has garnered attention for her Youtube videos and powerful speaking ability, introduces the project on the new website and invites her peers to join in.  “Together we begin today to shape tomorrow, to build a pro-life Canada,” she says.  “It begins here and it begins now, with you, with me, and with our generation.”

“Young people need more than just the truth about abortion,” adds Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director of NCLN.  “We also need strategies and opportunities to get that message out to our peers and our society.  Getting involved is what builds us into pro-life leaders for not only the future of our country, but also the present.”

This project was inspired by an earlier collaboration between TRL and NCLN on a Student Club Manual for high school students.  Like the manual, modelled on NCLN’s university manual, Student Life Link also draws on NCLN’s expertise and resources from years of working with pro-life university groups and adapts them for the high school environment, an area of focus for TRL.

“Student Life Link will complement the current work and accomplishment of teachers, students, school boards, and local Right to Life organizations.” says Rebecca Richmond.  “Clubs need that local help and support.  What we’re trying to do is add a layer of support that is accessible to students through online media and which encourages collaboration and idea sharing among groups.”

“The tagline and motto of the project is A Pro-Life Canada Starts Here,” explains Paul Klotz, Executive Director of TRL.  “It sums up the growing optimism and confidence of our pro-life youth and we hope it will inspire these young men and women, through their involvement with a high school pro-life club, to choose, support and fight for fight in high school, in university and beyond.”

The project was launched on Thursday March 24th at the 2nd Annual Student Leadership Conference, co-sponsored by TRL, the Toronto Catholic District School Board’s Respect for Life Committee, and the University of Toronto Students for Life.

For more information, visit the website at www.studentlifelink.ca or contact Paul Klotz at 416 483 7869 or Rebecca Richmond at 416 483 7869 (office), 416 388 0461 (cell).

photo:  Lia Mills, with Rebecca Richmond, Director of NCLN, and Larissa Zantua, TRL staff member, cuts green ribbon inaugurating Student Life Link

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In their own words

By Rebecca Richmond

These comments were made in Toronto by pro-choice activists at a rally, underscoring the importance and the impact of campus pro-life activism.  Watch the clip here.  In their own words: “We can’t let our guard down”

To better appreciate what they’re saying, I have included a transcript (with my own comments and corrections in line).

“They are heating up their end of things.  They are mobilizing wherever they can to challenge pro-choice forces.  And they are trying to do it a lot on campus.”

Is there any better place to discuss and debate controversial issues and challenge the status quo than on university campuses?

“There’s been a lot of stuff at U of T.”

Go U of T Students for Life! Keep up the great work!

“Coming up on March 14th, there’s going to be a debate at the University of Toronto.  The anti-choice is organizing with a woman from this group called the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, I believe it’s called.”

Yes, there will be a debate and I’m looking forward to it!  Stephanie Gray will be presenting the pro-life position and she is the Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform .

“Basically it’s the GAP, the Genocide Awareness Project, what they call it.”

The Genocide Awareness Project is one of the educational tools that the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform uses.  However, the debate in question is not GAP but, as the title suggestions, a debate.  A debate is defined as a formal, regulated discussion of an issue with two opposing views presented.  This debate will, as such, present both sides of the issue of abortion: pro-life and pro-choice.

“Which is these big, monstr – you know, giant-sized signs that they display on campuses and that are so offensive and that are just so horrible.”

The signs are offensive and horrible, but that is because they accurately reflect the offensive and horrible reality of abortion.  To quote pro-choice feminist Naomi Wolf: “The pro-choice movement often treats with contempt the pro-lifers’ practice of holding up to our faces their disturbing graphics….[But] how can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy.”
-16 Naomi Wolf, “Our Bodies, Our Souls,” The New Republic, 16 October 1996.

“So they’re going to have a debate on campus with a doctor I’ve never heard of, but I think, if people are interested (and we’ll send out an email about that), it’s on March 14th, I think pro-choice supporters should show up en masse and we should support anybody who’s on campus who’s standing up for choice. “

First off, the ‘doctor’ in question is Doctor Ainslie.  The speaker may not have heard of him but he’s certainly more than qualified.  Professor Ainslie is the chair of both the Department of Philosophy in the Faculty of Arts and Science and the Graduate Department of Philosophy.  In January he was named principal of University College.  One of his major fields of study is bioethics.

Second, I hope pro-choicers show up with open minds and with respect for the debate.

“Because they’re trying just basically to populate the campus with their activities and their things.”

We’re trying to save lives and change hearts and minds.  Having activities, events and an active presence on campus are means to accomplish our goals.

“For many of us, we thought we had sort of won this battle many years ago and clearly it’s not, it’s not something we can ever let our guard down.”

Clearly.

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Priests For Life Canada’s Radio Show to Feature NCLN Today

” The Pro-Life Hour” to Feature NCLN Today

Today, January 4th 2011, tune into Priests for Life Canada’s monthly radio show, “The Pro-Life Hour.”  Today’s show addresses the pro-life activities taking place on university and college campuses.  Rebecca Richmond, NCLN’s Executive Director, appears on the show to discuss the work of NCLN.  Ruth Lobo, President of Carleton Lifeline who was arrested in October of 2010 for pro-life activities on her campus, is also featured on the show to update the audience on their situation.

You’ll find the show on Radio Teopoli, AM530 (in the Toronto area) or online at www.teopoli.org at 1P.M., If you’re unable to tune into the show today, you can access the program starting tomorrow at the Priests for Life Canada website and listen in at your convenience. www.PriestsForLifeCanada.com

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No matter how the story’s spun, killing is not love

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director

The headline of the CBC article jumped out at me this morning, bringing with it many memories and a good deal of anger.  I was only 6 when Robert Latimer killed his daughter Tracy, who was 12 years old at the time.  I recall my mother’s fury and the letter-writing campaign she helped organize to inform politicians of the significance of this issue.  When I was a bit older and Latimer was appealing his sentence at the Supreme Court, I joined her efforts.  The leniency shown towards Latimer angered me then, and angers me now.  Yet what concerns me even more is the absence of condemnation of his actions on the part of the general public.

Consider the reaction to the murder of Karissa Boudreau, strangled to death by her own mother Penny.  Public outrage was enormous and the judge who ruled on the case told Penny, “You can never call yourself mother.”

Yet, if you read the comments posted on today’s article with news of Latimer’s full parole, you will see an entirely different reaction: Latimer is welcomed back, called a hero, and even suggested as a Member of Parliament because of his ‘integrity’.  It seems to me that the only thing more horrific than a father killing his daughter and calling it “love” is having the general public sympathize and support that father.

Growing up, I knew a young man with cerebral palsy.  The doctors said he would never walk or communicate.  Well, he proved those doctors wrong.  Life was difficult for his family and for him, yet his value was no less.  And as we grew up with him at school, we were taught that love meant sacrificing a bit of ourselves.  We took turns spending lunch hours with him.  We started learning sign language to better communicate with him.  Eventually the rest of the class moved ahead in grades, we moved into a different wing of the school and eventually to a different school.  But I don’t think we’ll ever forget our time with him, the wide smiles he gave us and the laughter that we shared.  He enriched our lives and made us better people.

I don’t doubt that life was difficult for Tracy and difficult for her parents, who struggled to see her suffer.  But how do we measure and quantify suffering?  Tracy was described as a generally cheerful girl who loved music and visits to the circus.  I’ve known people – with no physical pain – whose suffering was so deep they could not even smile.  Yet their right to life was never questioned.  So why is it that shooting a severely depressed teenage daughter, for example, would outrage the public while gassing Tracy, a cheerful 12 year old with cerebral palsy, is considered compassionate?

Tracy did not have the same capabilities as many of us.  She lived her life differently and was quite vulnerable, vulnerability her father took advantage of.  Her dependence and her simple mental state do not give us, however, any special right to determine her life’s value and whether or not we will care for her or kill her.

The reality is that love involves sacrifice and it means suffering alongside those we love.  And no matter how we spin the story, it never means killing.

For more background, see the Lifesitenews article here.

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NCLN at the International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director


October 28th-30th, I had the privilege of speaking at the International Pro-Life Conference in Ottawa.  The conference, sponsored by Campaign Life Coalition, Life Canada, LifeSiteNews.com, and the International Right to Life Federation, brought together speakers from around the world, including politicians, international pro-life leaders, doctors, authors, media, and yours truly.

As I told my audience during my talk, I felt humbled to speak at the conference, knowing that my audience included many giants in the pro-life movement as well as many people who have been fighting for the lives of the unborn longer than I have been alive.  Their work, and the work of others like them, has been important in paving the way for me to be where I am today.  I closed my talk by drawing attention to the fact that my generation is a generation of survivors; we are here because someone “wanted” us.  And so, on behalf of our peers who didn’t survive, who were slaughtered by abortion, a new generation of pro-life leaders is standing up to continue the fight.

It was a wonderful opportunity to share the work of NCLN with the attendees.  The audience was inspired to hear about the advances being made on university campuses in Canada as well as the perseverance and courage of pro-life students, even when facing adversity.

The Conference was a wonderful opportunity for me to meet other pro-life leaders.  I also had the pleasure of meeting a few university students who are involved in campus pro-life groups, or are planning to get involved.

I congratulate the hosts and sponsors of this conference and look forward to future conferences.

(Photo by Campaign Life Coalition Youth.)

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uOttawa Students For Life: Pro-Lifers Appear on Michael Coren Show

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

On October 21, former uOSFL president Rebecca Richmond, and current Executive Director of National Campus Life Network, appeared on the Michael Coren Show. She appeared along with NCLN President Theresa Gilbert, and Carleton Lifeline’s Ruth Lobo and James Shaw. Jojo Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform and Alanna Campbell of the Calgary Pro-life club appeared via satellite.

The panel met to discuss the issues of university censorship of the pro-life message, which came to a head in the arrest of 6 pro-life students attempting to display the Genocide Awareness Project at Carleton University earlier this month. In the past three years, 8 university pro-life clubs have met with antagonism from their university administrations over club status or other club rights because of their unpopular and controversial viewpoints. These clubs include UVic, Lakehead, Brandon, and York. Jojo Ruba also highlighted the student protesting he has encountered attempting to deliver his lecture “Echoes of the Holocaust” at St. Mary’s and McGill.

uOSFL would like to thank the University of Ottawa for the fair and even-handed treatment they have given us, in that we have neither lost our club status nor our club funding. However, we have received antagonism from pro-choice groups on our campus, most notably the Women’s Resource Centre, which was very antagonistic of our annual baby-shower fundraiser, which supplies maternity and infant clothing and supplies to women in adverse circumstances trying to raise children, through our partnership with First Place Pregnancy Centre.

We encourage people to watch the video of the Michael Coren Show and to think about the ramifications of this type of thinking not in terms of the pro-life message, but in terms of freedom of speech and censorship.


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.