Shifting Identities and Challenging Consciences

By Josh MacMillan, NCLN Campus Coordinator

On October 20th I was present at a Flag Display organized by Laurier LifeLink. Despite the cold, rainy weather, by early morning 10,000 blue and pink flags, each representing 10 abortions, were planted in the Quad, a grassy square in the centre of campus. The question was posed: “What do you think about 100,000 abortions occurring every year in Canada?”

By mid-afternoon, we had an answer. A mob of students converged on the display, uprooting it, many claiming the display was shaming women, spreading hate speech, using ‘shock’ tactics, not welcome on university campuses, and/or just plain wrong to do. Regardless of their specific justification for their actions, the common sentiment was this: they wanted to protect the women on campus from experiencing trauma due to seeing this display.

This makes sense. No one in their right mind – pro-life or pro-choice – wants to see another human being suffer. When we see harm being done to another, we take action.

In the case of abortion, then, what action must we as pro-lifers take?

Paul Swope, author of Abortion: A Failure to Communicate, recognizes that pro-lifers care deeply about the lives of the pre-born. However, this does not mean that those in favour of access to abortion do not. An unplanned pregnancy inherently changes the identities of the people involved. She becomes a mother. He becomes a father. And that change can be difficult to handle as it alters the current identity a person has of themselves.

shifitng-identities

He continues to explain that abortion supporters look at an unplanned pregnancy as having one of three undesirable outcomes for the woman: motherhood, adoption, and abortion. Motherhood is undesirable because she might have other plans, such as education and a career. Adoption is dangerous because abandoning her child labels her as a ‘bad’ mother in society; it is also uncertain because the child may one day come looking for her, which may be difficult to face. The last outcome, abortion, by its very nature is an undesirable decision. But due to the gravity of the other options, it becomes a necessary “one of self-preservation … to the woman deciding to abort and to those supporting her decision.”

The pro-choice students who tore up the Flag Display were likely acting in the defence of the women on campus who made the choice to have an abortion. Consistent with Swope’s points, they likely see some students – or themselves – as having to make a hard, undesirable, but justified, decision.

With this understanding of the actions of those against us, Swope suggests that the pro-life movement should, when doing outreach, focus on pro-motherhood campaigns, as “[t]he pro-life movement’s own self-chosen slogans and educational presentations have tended to… focus almost exclusively on the unborn child, not the mother. This tends to build resentment, not sympathy, particularly among women of child-bearing age.” While he is right to criticize the pro-life movement when it does not address the issues surrounding an unplanned pregnancy, it cannot only be pro-motherhood, especially on campus. Focusing solely on pro-motherhood campaigns does nothing to challenge the notion of a ‘choice’ for the demographic most vulnerable to abortion – university- and college-aged women. We can and must offer women better choices, but failing to reveal the harm that one choice will cause to another human being does not challenge the consciences of our peers.

So how do we strike the right balance in showing we are pro-woman and pro-child?

Every outreach event the Pro-Life Student Movement does must have pro-motherhood and post-abortive healing resources available. We must also be better prepared to look into the eyes of our peers with their hurts and heart-breaking experiences and say, “I’m so sorry you are going through this… Can I put you in touch with someone who can help?”  This means integrating into all our discussions about the reality of abortion, the message of hope and healing, and making it as clear as possible that we want to help heal the brokenness on our campuses. We should always evaluate the ways we may have not communicated the pro-life message with love, and determine how we can do better. In doing this, we will be more able to affirm women in their identity, an identity that can include themselves as mothers, and challenge them to make the tough decision to defend the life of a human being – possibly their own child.

But even the hardest of truths said with love still hurts. We will be resented for standing up for the preborn, and we will experience backlash, just like we experienced at the flag display. We mustn’t fear sharing the truth and concern ourselves with preserving the pro-life image in order, as Swope states, to “regain the moral high ground in the mind of the… public…” It is the truth that will challenge consciences and, spoken with love, will open the door to dispelling the myths of abortion being a justified decision.

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NCLN Condemns Assault on Pro-Life Student, Grateful for Her Safety

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A campus pro-life student was assaulted earlier this week while walking home from campus, but thankfully escaped unharmed.  The male assailant concealed his face and pushed her against a fence, threatening her saying, “Would you still be anti-choice if YOU had to make the choice?” The student hit her attacker and ran. She reported the incident right away to campus and local authorities.

Although still in shock, the student is doing well. Two days after the incident, she joined her club members in doing pro-life outreach on campus. She shared with our staff: “This is the work I’ve been called to do. I’m not going to let some politically-charged moron scare me off.”

National Campus Life Network’s staff has worked closely with this student throughout the school year and will continue to ensure that she feels safe and supported. We are profoundly grateful that she was unharmed. In our organization’s experience, this is the first time such an incident has occurred. NCLN will continue to stress its safety policies, including doing campus activism in a group setting.

“NCLN is disgusted and appalled by the contemptible behaviour of this man,” states Anastasia Pearse, NCLN’s Executive Director.  “Women should not be threatened in any way, shape or form because of the opinion they peacefully and respectfully address on campus. If this man believes in women’s rights, why is he threatening hers? No student should ever have to experience this.”

The Pro-Life Student Movement continues to work in solidarity to bring the pro-life message to Canadian campuses. The male assailant’s actions truly demonstrate how the message needs to be shared all the more persistently.  Pro-life students are witnessing to a broken, wounded culture, defending not only the value and dignity of pre-born children, but of their peers as well. We may never know exactly why this man reacted out of anger and with violence, but he is a reminder of our duty to share the truth with love and mercy, so that he and others like him may be given the opportunity to heal from their wounds.

We encourage students and supporters to pray for everyone involved. The pro-life student’s relentless courage to defend pre-born children and support women in crisis is an inspiration to the NCLN team.

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84 Years after the Persons Case Canada Still has Lessons to Learn

Written by Kathleen Dunn

84 years ago today, on October 18th 1929, Canadian women were recognized as persons under the law.  Lord Sankey of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in England reversed the Supreme Court of Canada’s earlier decision and ruled in favour of female personhood. “The exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours,” he said.

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As a woman, I’m thankful that the Famous Five took matters into their own hands when our femininity was used to marginalize and exclude our gender. In the face of injustice, these women had the strength and courage to take matters into their own hands and fight for their personhood.

But as I reflect on the importance of this day, my thoughts are unquestionably drawn towards the preborn: the only group of Canadian human beings without the status of personhood.

Like the preborn, women were not recognized as persons, despite their fundamental human equality. But unlike the preborn, these women had their own voices and could speak up to defend themselves.  The preborn, while being denied personhood and human equality, are violently killed before even given the chance to speak for themselves.

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The pro-life movement is unique among social justice movements in that the victims of injustice are entirely unable to advance their own cause. Without pro-life voices like your own, the injustice of abortion will continue to silently and brutally snuff out these young lives.

So when you face discouragement in your pro-life activism, feeling as if your voice can do nothing, remember that the preborn have no voice but yours. Their silent screams will only be heard when we let them ring out through our own mouths, as we choose to defend them.

Emily Murphy, one of the Famous Five in the Persons Case, took these words as her motto: “Whenever I don’t know whether to fight or not, I fight.” So, as we celebrate this milestone for women, let us continually, in every moment, make the choice to fight – to be a voice for the preborn – who are entirely voiceless without us.

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uOttawa Students For Life: “It’s A Girl” Screening this Friday, April 19th at U of O

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

It's A Girl

In India, China and many other parts of the world today, girls are killed, aborted and abandoned simply because they are girls. The United Nations estimates that between 100 Million and 200 Million girls are missing in the world today because of this so-called “gendercide.” Last year, the Canadian Medical Association Journal and CBC’s The National reported on increased sex-selective abortion here in Canada.

Join us this FridayApril 19th, at 7pm at the University of Ottawa’s Café Alt (60 University Private) for a screening of “It’s A Girl” – a documentary film that examines this troubling phenomenon – and a discussion of how we can combat it. We’re committed to providing an open, supportive environment in which anyone interested in combating gendercide feels welcome.

After the film (around 8:15 PM), we’ll be hosting our Annual General Meeting and elections, so please feel free to stick around if you would like to get more involved in the pro-life movement on campus. 

For the Facebook event, see: https://www.facebook.com/events/146483725529670/

Have questions? Feel free to post them here or email us at uottawastudentsforlife@gmail.com. Thanks!
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Information & Resources:

Here’s the CBC Report on sex-selection abortion in Canada: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2012/06/12/ultrasound-gender-testing.html

Here’s the Canadian Medical Association Journal article on sex-selection abortion in Canada: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/184/3/E163

“It’s A Girl” Film Site: http://www.itsagirlmovie.com/

DefendGirls.ca is an activist group calling on Parliament to pass Motion 408, which would “condemn sex-selection pregnancy termination”: http://www.defendgirls.ca/


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.

uOttawa Students For Life: DefendGirls

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

by Kate

DefendGirls is a new campaign to provide information and raise awareness about sex-selective abortion. I recommend taking a look at the DefendGirls Facebook page or at the website defendgirls.ca. The site offers information about the issue and about Motion 408, the motion recently filed in the House of Commons asking parliamentarians to condemn sex-selective abortions as discrimination against girls. The site also provides suggestions and links for further action and has a very interesting blog. DefendGirls stickers, postcards, business cards and t-shirts can be purchased through the NCLN website.

DefendGirls

 


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.

uOttawa Students For Life: Female Feticide

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

From Aborting Women’s Rights:

So prevalent is this trend that the delicate balance required to maintain healthy populations is becoming badly skewed. According to an article in The New Atlantis:

“The practice has become so ruthlessly routine in many contemporary societies that it has impacted their very population structures, warping the balance between male and female births and consequently skewing the sex ratios for the rising generation toward a biologically unnatural excess of males. This still-growing international predilection for sex-selective abortion is by now evident in the demographic contours of dozens of countries around the globe – and it is sufficiently severe that it has come to alter the overall sex ratio at birth of the entire planet, resulting in millions upon millions of new ‘missing baby girls’ each year. In terms of its sheer toll in human numbers, sex-selective abortion has assumed a scale tantamount to a global war against baby girls.”

When feminists talk about abortion, they do so in terms of women’s rights. Legalized abortion empowers women, they assert, because it puts them in control over their bodies; it gives them the choice whether or not to bear a child who has been conceived. What these proponents of “liberty” fail to consider, however, is that in many cases women are “choosing” abortion at the behest of someone else. Cultural pressures, fear of retaliation, and other factors are driving them to end the lives of their unborn children because daughters are deemed undesirable. Thus, abortion is being used as an instrument of oppression against females, not as a tool of liberation.

No doubt abortion advocates would argue that it is not abortion that is at fault here, but backward cultures that are misusing the tools of liberty in order to further their misogynistic agendas. Third world abortion might be an abusive, repugnant phenomenon, but that says nothing about its use in the western world. Such logic is nothing short of delusional. When it comes to questions of life and death, there is little gray area. You are either an advocate of life, a supporter of inherent human dignity, or you aren’t. You can’t justify the killing of the unborn the name “choice” and then complain when others exercise that choice in ways you find objectionable.

So this leaves the feminists of the west in somewhat of a pickle. What will they make of these new demographic trends? Will they stick to their guns and defend the use of abortion even as a tool of gender-based infanticide? Will they attempt to somehow construct a “morality of abortion” in which only certain motivations for the procedure are deemed justifiable? Will they evade the issue altogether?

For the sake of millions of unborn women around the world, here’s hoping this trend puts some pressure the pro-abortion movement to reconsider the implications of their inhuman and inhumane conception of human “rights.”


Read the comments at the uOttawa Students For Life website.