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

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.” (See full email text at: http://uofguelphlifechoice.ncln.ca/2012/03/14/email/)

“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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University of Guelph Life Choice: Email from Student Help and Advocacy Centre

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

This is the response from the Student Help and Advocacy Centre, after Hanna Barlow, President of Guelph Life Choice, requested their help in finding someone to represent the pro-choice position in the March 27th debate.

 Hi Hannah,

Thank you for contacting the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) at the Central Student Association (CSA). Unfortunately, SHAC is unwilling to participate in this kind of debate due to our "Declaration of Rights of the Woman Student" policy from the CSA that I have copied and pasted below. We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is something that should be debated because we see "pro-choice" as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable. If you would like to discuss this further, please feel free to e-mail shacedu@uoguelph.ca.

Regards,

Alexandra Holtom
-----------------------------------------
Education and Events Coordinator
Student Help and Advocacy Centre
University Centre Level 2
University of Guelph
______________________________________________

4.2 DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF THE WOMAN STUDENT

The Central Student Association endorses and will work to enact the following Declaration of Rights of the Woman Students:

1. All women have the right to freedom of choice of lifestyle, employment and education as full and equal participants in Canadian society.

2. All women have the right to access to post-secondary education.

3. All women have the right to employment, and the right to equal opportunity to employment with equal pay for work of equal value.

4. All women have the right of access to quality, fully government subsidized child care, provided by adequately trained and paid child care workers, since access to education is limited by lack thereof.

5. The right to a financial student assistance program which meets the needs of full-time, part-time, and single parent students, the majority of whom are women, and which does not require dependence on their parents or spouse.

6. The right to concrete programs for re-entry of women into post-secondary education to aid women in overcoming the barriers of interrupted studies and inadequate backgrounds.

7. The right to academic counseling which informs women of all educational and employment opportunities available in order to actively combat streaming of women into traditional fields.

8. The right of women students to organize since women’s organizations within the student movement are necessary to actively raise the issues faced by women students, to provide a place for women to develop organizational and political skills and to provide a forum where women can develop a sense of unity and co-operation.

9. The right of women students to a students’ union which recognizes, promotes and funds a women’s organization on campus to facilitate involvement in women’s issues.

10. The right to an education through non-sexist instruction, textbooks and materials, recognizing that some literature and materials must be viewed relative to their historical or social context but that all instruction, contemporary textbooks and materials should be free of sexual stereotyping and discrimination.

11. The right to an educational environment free of advertisement , entertainment programming and/or materials which promote violence against women, sexual stereotyping and discrimination.

12. The right to government-funded women’s studies courses in post-secondary institutions.

13. The fundamental right of all women to control their bodies:

a) access to safe, reliable birth control and family planning information and the right of choice in the method;

b) freedom of choice choosing one’s stance in the matter of abortion;

c) access to quality health services and counseling which meet the needs of women students and respect a woman’s control of her body;

d) freedom of expression of sexual orientation;

e) freedom from sexual assault and all other forms of violence.

14. The right to an educational environment free of sexual harassment.

15. The right to effective, legal and academic grievance procedures recognized by students, faculty and support staff.

16. The right to celebrate International Women’s Day on campus.

(January 1994)

Read the comments at the University of Guelph Life Choice website.