Are pro-life groups deserving of student funding? -

Are pro-life groups deserving of student funding?

Our student panel weighs in


Pro-life clubs are among the most controversial student groups on university campuses. At several universities across the country, they have had their student group status stripped and have even been arrested for their advocacy. Recently, the Carleton University Students’ Association decertified pro-life group Carleton Lifeline because the club’s constitution was out-of-line with CUSA’s official pro-choice stance.

Our bloggers have weighed in on the issue, with Robyn Urback arguing that CUSA has enacted a “discriminatory ban” and Jacob Serebrin taking the position that no student group has any inherent right to funding.

We put the question to our student panel. Leading off this week is Shelley Halchuk, a dentistry student at the University of Manitoba, and an executive member of the University of Manitoba Aboriginal Students’ Association. As with previous weeks, all videos will be featured on our You Tube channel.


Are pro-life groups deserving of student funding?

  1. Ultimately, its all contextual to the pro life group on a given campus. Last year I ended ratifying a Pro-Life group at Saint Mary’s for the first time in the school’s history. I ended up doing research before making a decision to ratify a pro-life club. I have seen examples where there has been justification for pro life groups on campus. I have also seen examples where pro-life groups use intimidation tactics on their student body that is completely unacceptable and should be de-ratified. At the end of the day pro life groups should be treated like any other society. I’m sure there are other societies who everyone has a philosophical difference with, but that doesn’t mean they deserve to be de-ratified or should not get funding. It means that as long they promote peaceful dialogue then they should be encouraged to exist. After all, we are part of a university where ideas should be discussed with civility and not be shouted down.

  2. The issue at hand here is more fundamentally why there is even a question as to why carleton lifeline’s status is even in question. The only reason that Lifeline is being decertified is because according to CUSA policy, a pro life group is considered discriminatory. This is problematic because it is a fundamental restriction to student’s right to freedom of speech on campus.

    A student union should represent all students fairly especially because students are forced to pay money to them. In this way, Carleton University Student Association is taking money from the pro-life students and using it to discriminate against them simply because they don’t agree with Lifeline’s methods and ideologies.

    Currently, one does not have the right to “not be offended” and as such, we should create opportunities to talk about difficult ideas rather than silencing them. The concept of offensiveness is subjective and completely arbitrary and therefore, should not be used as a mechanism of censorship. Lifeline’s activities are in line with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which is more fundamental than CUSA policies which are based on opinion. Lifeline’s activities do not incite hatred or violence against groups of people and have always conducted their events peacefully and respectfully. The complaints they have received have been justified on the basis of arbitrary offensiveness which is frankly, disturbing.

  3. hmmm what irony….a group that believes people should not have the freedom to their own choices also believe they deserve freedom of speech…even though their “speech” is discriminatory and lacks any freedom itself.
    My question is then, if a university based KKK club decided they wanted student funding for their group…would you think they deserved it because of freedom of speech?
    my point is…where do we draw the line? how long are we to justify discriminatory behavior because of their right to freedom of speech? and WHY is it that their right to freedom of speech means students have to give their money to them…they are free to advocate all they want on their own after all….
    yes…we should not be discriminatory on who deserves freedom of speech…and student beliefs should not affect who receives funding and who does not…but if their activities have ended up in ARRESTS, is it not reasonable to cut funding from such negative actions?
    i mean, sure…go ahead and get arrested all u want for ur advocacy….just dont make ME pay for it.

  4. First off, the Charter rights, including free speech, only apply to government. McKinney v The University of Guelph says that Universities are NOT government. Thus there is NO Charter protection for freedom of speech on university campuses.

    Second, unless you think it is acceptable to fund neo-nazi and other racist groups, then approving funding for anti-choice groups should be no different. Women have the right to autonomy and security of person. They do NOT deserve to be demonized for their personal choices. Everybody needs to stay out of MY uterus. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one, but do NOT purport to tell me you have a right to an opinion with respect to MY body.

    Good on Carleton – keeps these misogynistic women hating groups off campuses.

  5. Anti-choice groups require that I tolerate their intolerance, or else I’m intolerant. The heads of all reasonable people should explode.

  6. The argument that funding an anti-abortion group is the same as supporting a neo-nazi or other racist group is so ridiculous. I don’t agree with the anti-abortionists but I have no doubt that most of them arrive at their view in good faith based on what they see as the beginning of life. It has nothing to do with “hatred” for women or any patriarchical impulse for control over women. They genuinely believe that a fetus is a life that is entitled to state protection. I don’t agree with them but its certainly unfair to lump them in with hate groups. They are not even remotely the same.

  7. To say that abortion is a violation of human rights is not hate speech, or incites violence against women in any way. We have hate speech laws and obscenity laws in this country that govern the ‘line’ of appropriatness and currently, discussing issues such as abortion and showing real images of the procedure fall into neither category. As such, you cannot compare anti- abortion groups to neo-natzi groups.Further, in Pridgen vs the University of Calgary ( a case being discussed currently), the judge stated that the university is not a “Charter free zone” because they are heavily funded by the government.

  8. I wonder what students from communist countries thing of this version of tolerance for other opinions?
    Personally I believe the whole issue is better served by a legal examination pro life defending a person or not?
    The more we learn about genes..the more it looks that way to cell or a trillion..its human dna..wheres the line? Missing a leg your not a person?
    missing 2 legs? How many cells missing before it isnt a person?
    Answer is the egg before the chicken..chicken is just a convenient way to make more eggs.
    Where is the tolerance at the school?
    Only for opinions that agree?

  9. I wonder what students from communist countries think of this version of tolerance for other opinions?
    Personally I believe the whole issue is better served by a legal examination pro life defending a person or not?
    The more we learn about genes..the more it looks that way to cell or a trillion..its human dna..wheres the line? Missing a leg your not a person?
    missing 2 legs? How many cells missing before it isnt a person?
    Answer is the egg before the chicken..chicken is just a convenient way to make more eggs.
    Where is the tolerance at the school?
    Only for opinions that agree?

  10. Just out curiosity UBC student, how is advocating against women to not have the right to abort her child discriminatory?

    It is simply a matter of opinion and personal morals.

    Taking into consideration that under conventional circumstances a woman chooses to engage in intimate relations with someone else, why should she not be responsible for accepting the consequences of her actions? You can’t tell me that the possibility of getting pregnant did not cross her mind, and with the amount of education and contraceptives that are widely available there is simply no excuse.

    Note: I am not discussing or debating any exceptional circumstances that could potentially result in pregnancy like sexual assault that would be of a different matter altogether.

    Why this is such controversial, and divisive issue is because to rights are placed at odds with each other, the woman’s right to choose versus the unborn’s right to life. Now since she made her decision to jump in the sack without taking the necessary precautions, that act alone should tip the balance in favor of the unborn’s right to life. Why, because it is a matter of personal responsibility. Regardless, of whether it is in embryonic stage or the fetal stage, to make it technical, that life form was created out of the willful and informed actions of two people involved, therefore, it is their responsibility to make sure that the pregnancy is carried to term.

    Furthermore, since we have a universal healthcare system in Canada, why should my tax dollars go towards funding a medical procedure that is not life threatening or even necessary? Since this is a situation where the actions of two people could potentially impose unwarranted consequences on both the unborn fetus, and the Canadian taxpayer this makes the case all the more compelling.

    To answer the ridiculous question concerning a KKK club receiving funding to establish a university club, (for which by the way I am not sure how it fits in with the topic of this discussion)….no it shouldn’t. Since a KKK club would be based on hateful, racist and highly discriminative ideology that has the capability of causing serious psychological, emotional and physical harm to others.

    The mandate of lifeline, just like many other prolife organizations within universities all across the country is to promote life and individual wellbeing. These types of organizations bear no resemblance to racist organizations like the KKK, and should not even be mentioned within the same discussion. In fact they are completely the opposite since the KKK spreads hate against black people, while pro life organizations seek to preserve life.

    The bottom line is, informing women and making them more conscientious of their decisions concerning abortion is not discriminative at all, and has every right to be accepted within the marketplace of ideas, especially a university.


  11. It’s not about restricting the right a woman has to chose, it’s about protecting the right the unborn child has to live.

  12. Pro-Choice groups do not violate any regulations on Carleton Campus. To assume that because they were arrested, they did something illegal is pretty ignorant. In this case the University is WRONG for what they did.

    Secondly Pro-Life is the official term for our group. Not Anti-Abortion, not Anti-Choice. If there is an Anti-Choice group it is the Pro-Choice. I encourage everyone to look at Carleton Lifeline’s website and look at their protest tactics. They are childish, immature, and censoring. This is not academic debate. You can be pro-choice, but be ready to know exactly what your CHOICE means. Don’t be ignorant of it.

    Following this, if we silence a pro-life group advocating the other side, how can Pro-choice be advocating choice if they shut out the choices? That sounds more like a Nazi group.

  13. So i make a request to ALL sides of the debate. Please refer to us as Pro-life. We do not accept abortion, but that is because we believe that the child in the womb is a human and is ALIVE.

    We do not view abortion as a right or even a privelege. Even in the court cases legalizing abortion, one must note that the courts deem that it is up to Parliament to decide the EXTENT of abortion.

  14. Medieval times called, they want their beliefs back.

  15. The Students’ Association, not Union, is discriminating because it is taking sides in a political debate. Fundamentally, the decision to take sides fails to take into account two basic ideas:

    1. All Carleton Students MUST pay CUSA an ancillary fee every year. Failure to do so will result in poor standing with the University (jeopardizing one’s ability to graduate), and,

    2. Canada and all of its components under law, fundamentally, aren’t a “democracy” in the literal sense of the word. One of the key characteristics is that Good Governance is equitable and inclusive. (Canada is about Peace, Order and Good Governance as defined by the Constitution.) We allow the majority to govern and respect the minorities rights.

    I think that CUSA has forgotten that legal statues and decisions, some from which we derive our legal authority, exist above CUSA’s constitution, bylaws and policies. This decision is based around “protecting a women’s right to choose,” as was stated many times during the discussion of this issue. What has been forgotten in this case is, (a), that abortion is the only debated choice and it has been legal in Canada for 30 years, and (b), that CUSA doesn’t need to have and shouldn’t have an opinion in this heavily debated issue.

    CUSA is an organization that takes money from 21,000 students (approximately) and then acts like a private club (as is apparent from this issue). In this instance, CUSA is being inequitable and exclusive with respect to the two sides of the debate.

    At the end of the day, argue it the way you want. Call the debate what you want. Have your personal convictions. But Remember that you, as CUSA, represent more than just yourself, you represent a collective of diverse and opinionated students.

    When you, as CUSA, act like this you, (a), alienate students even more than they already are from the organization, and (b), give hardworking and decent students a bad public image. You’re more than just a private club, you’re a public organization tasked with representing students as whole!