Closed for debate

Pro-life student clubs are being shut out across the country

by Erin Millar

It was standing room only at the University of Victoria on Oct. 21, when anti-abortion activist Stephanie Gray visited from Calgary to debate distinguished medical ethicist Eike-Henner Kluge. Gray and Kluge duked it out twice that day, to accommodate those who couldn’t fit into the 200-seat room for round one. Not one to disappoint, Gray, who is executive director of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, employed the tactics that make her so controversial: she compared abortion to the Holocaust, showed a video of an abortion, and juxtaposed images of bloodied fetuses with photos of corpses from atrocities such as the Rwanda genocide.

Yet compared to some of the activism on Canadian campuses, the debate was mild, the audience civil, even polite. Periodically, when Gray began speaking, a group of students would hold up signs sporting slogans like “My body is not up for debate.” And there were scattered heckles when she accused pro-choicers of believing that “a woman has the right to directly and intentionally dismember and decapitate and disembowel her child.” But she wasn’t accosted, yelled at, or in any way prevented from speaking her mind. Nevertheless, the debate and other events organized by UVic’s pro-life club, called Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), are shaping up to be the basis of a legal battle over free speech that could change the way student unions and even universities operate.

The spat began in October 2008 when the university’s students’ society refused to give YPY the same meagre funding all UVic student clubs receive. Clubs approved by a committee are entitled to $232 each year and such perks as banner supplies and free room bookings. Upon review in 2009, the committee approved YPY. But the students’ society board stepped in and once again revoked the funding. In an Oct. 5 meeting, the society’s directors accused YPY of “harassing” female students (although they mentioned no specifics). Director Tracey Ho summed up the society’s position by saying, “No one should debate my rights over my own body.”

Ho’s sentiment is particularly troubling when it is put into force at universities, which should be bastions of intellectual freedom and open debate, says John Dixon, director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. So when YPY approached the association to complain of discrimination, it was happy to help. “This is a freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, freedom of
opinion, freedom of expression case,” Dixon says.

The UVic students’ society, on the other hand, maintains that events such as the Gray-Kluge debate go beyond the limits of free expression. “Freedom of speech of course can happen, but not when it’s harassing or oppressing other people,” says Veronica Harrison, the society’s chairperson. Dixon’s response: “There used to be people who would run up to women outside abortion clinics with video cameras and say: ‘We’re going to show your priests, mothers, teachers, classmates.’ That’s harassment. I don’t see how you can be harassed by somebody giving a speech—if you don’t want to hear it, don’t go.”

Harrison maintains that the students’ society is an independent body that had every right to deny YPY funding. And that’s exactly what Dixon hopes this case will change. He sees in the scuffle an opportunity to reverse a long-standing legal precedent set by the Supreme Court that universities are not subject to the same Charter of Rights and Freedoms strictures as government entities are. But a number of recent decisions suggests that the sands are shifting, and Dixon believes that, if tested in court, universities will be brought under the Charter. Since student union representatives sit on university governance boards, he hopes they will be seen as creatures intrinsic to the university, therefore also subject to the Charter.

Dixon will likely find a legal sparring partner in the UVic students’ society. In May last year, the Canadian Federation of Students—representing 500,000 students from 80 campuses—passed a motion encouraging members (including the UVic society) to deny resources and club status to “anti-choice organizations” and promising financial support should that result in legal action. But conflict over whether student unions have the right to shut down anti-abortion clubs has long simmered on campuses across the country. The student association at Capilano University was ordered to grant status to a pro-life club after the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal found pro-life students had been victims of discrimination. Student unions at McGill, Guelph, Lakehead, York, Carleton and other universities have also attempted to shut clubs down. And in 2008, the University of Calgary charged student members of a pro-life club with trespassing after they refused to remove graphic images from campus.

So far, Dixon hasn’t received any response to letters sent to the CFS, the UVic students’ society or the university itself, and he warns that the BCCLA doesn’t take kindly to being ignored. “My strong advice would be not to invite one of the most energetic, able and successful litigators in Canada to court,” he says, laughing and pointing out that the dispute boils down to $232. “Just write the cheque!”




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Closed for debate

  1. I have no problem with a student organization allocating its resources to the detriment of groups it does not support, so long as it isn't on race, creed, gender. etc.. I also have no problem shutting the groups down on general principle. Like-minded abortionists can meet and discuss issues, although without the benefit of being a student organization. They can even try to flood student gov't with anti-women candidates in order to get club status in a democratic manner.

    And good luck with making universities subject to Charter scrutiny, heh.

    • So if you believe that abortion is a moral evil, you are anti-women then. It can't possibly be because one views human life as sacrosanct.

      • So if you believe human life is sacrosanct, you're of the opinion that the offspring of a rapist must be carried to term, and a woman who likes indian food and eats too much cardamon and cinnamon is guilty of manslaughter?

        • I guess it doesn't bother you if you see a pregnant woman drinking and smoking during pregnancy either.

          • Nice dodge. You first.

        • Exceptions in the instance of rape make no sense. Yes, it is horrific to have a child you didn't want, but civilization is kind of founded on the idea that murder is the most horrific possible thing that can happen to somebody. I certainly won't chastise anybody for having consistent views in this regard.

          At the end of the day the abortion debate is a subjective one. It is subjective because humans are unclear about why we make some people morally relevant and others not. If I were to take a stab at philosophizing, I would say that our definition of moral relevance is tied to sentience. We grant rights to all humans, with three main exceptions: children, the mentally handicapped, and criminals. We grant the first two limited sets of rights because it is impossible to have rights without comprehension of the responsibilities entailed by those rights. This is why the notion of animal rights are absurd. A dog can't responsibly use freedom of speech because it doesn't realize that others are annoyed when it doesn't shut up at 5 am.

          However, the mentally handicapped and children still have some rights. They have, for instance, the right not to be killed. So we consistently apply a framework in human society wherein limited faculties grant one limited rights (and where the right to life is generally the first right).

          If rights are based on sentience, however, it may be arbitrary to mark birth as the critical breaking point. An infant is no cognitively different after leaving the womb than it is before. Yes, its umbilical cord is cut, but it continues to be about as reliant upon its mother as before. Similarly, some babies are born prematurely. They are just as developed, and physically no different from many fetuses that do get aborted.

          This is why I think the only approach to abortion that is consistent with our own general principles is to allow abortion up till the point at which a fetus' mental activity reaches a certain critical threshold. Where that threshold is, I don't know.

          • I think you're taking a big leap when you say animals aren't sentient. Why not be empirical and say that we retain both the rights we're willing to grant and the rights we're willing to seize?

            In the case of slaughterhouses, we're not willing to grant the cows the right to a humane death, because we need the meat; and they're unable to seize that right, being cows. In the case of dogs, we've granted them the right to a human death, but not the right to life, because we like dogs. In the case of abortion, women have seized the right to control their power of reproduction, and they (and their sympathisers) are too powerful to be overridden by those who sentimentalise fetuses as most people sentimentalise dogs and we all sentimentalise infants. That's just the shape of society right now, different from 100 years ago (when most people sentimentalised fetuses), from Korea (where few people sentimentalise dogs), and from pagan antiquity (when few people sentimentalised infants).

        • I wish I could find the reference again, but I'm sure I read once that rape only accounted for something like 1% of the abortions in the US. A far higher percentage was done at the insistence of the husband, boyfriend or parent(s). Yeah, that's "choice".

          • Point? It's sacrosanct or it isn't.

    • Mike, hi this is your boss. I've decided to fire you because I disagree with your political beliefs. We just can't have a liberal undermining our corporate culture. I'm glad that you understand.

  2. Sounds like Mr. Dixon is shockingly and tremendously unfamiliar with s.32 rulings. This is a matter for human rights commissions, not the Charter. The McKinney v. The University of Guelph ruling was pretty clear: universities are not government actors.

    • I know, right? Let's see who is cutting cheques and for how much, and how hard this Dix guy is laughing then.

      • I would suspect that as a lawyer John Dixon would know that case well. McKinney was the first Charter case to question the limits of the Charter, since that time there have been a series of cases that have eroded the McKinney precedent and as of right now the case law seems to indicate that if an organization (government or not) is performing an action that resembles or is reasonably expected to be a government action then the Charter may apply.

        Just this summer, the Court held in CFS v. BC Transit that even though BC Transit is a private entity its actions resemble that of a government agent. Thus the Charter does apply

        • Never trust a lawyer who is bragging to reporters about how strong his case is.

          Smart money is dead set against the anti-abortionists winning this one.

          • Although the circumstances deal with a pro-choice organization, the issue at bar will has nothing to do with the abortion debate. It will come down to whether a student's union, which acts as a quasi-governmental body that is connected to government via funding and potentially statute (I know at my University there is a specific act constituting our students union) should be governed by the Charter.

            I don't know about you guys but I would think a freedom of expression/ freedom of conscience testcase would probably be the most effective for overturning McKinney, and with the composition of the Supreme Court currently in Ottawa, it wouldn't surprise me if it were to work.

  3. So if you believe that abortion is a moral evil, you are anti-women then.

    +++

    Yes, and whether you reached that conclusion through hatred, stupidity or brainwashing is of little concern to me.

    • Nice, I'm the stupid and brainwashed one. Of course, I'm not the one that suffers cognitive dissonance when images of the results of the abortion are shown. It is people like you that call foul if a dismembered fetus is portrayed. I have no problem knowing what that dismembered fetus is and what it represents.

      If you believe abortion is a moral good, you should proudly portray such images instead of being shamed by them.

      • Some of us just don't need to look at it from a moral perspective. It's a woman's health issue. Do we need to see pictures of open-heart surgery or colonoscopy videos? Does our distaste for such images mean that the procedures are immoral, or just that people don't like looking at blood and guts? Not everyone shares your worldview…

        • Yes, I'm sure posting pictures of open-heart surgery would get the same reaction.

          How about we give it a try with embedded images or video?

      • I feel a great debt to modern sanitation, yet don't go around trying to shove pictures of excrement into people's faces, yaknowwhuddImean?

        • Well, generally you don't need to drug people up enough so they don't remember the procedure whenever you go to the bathroom.

          • This may be the dumbest post of the week!

          • Generally, you don't need to do this for an abortion either.

          • Oh, you don't need to…

          • I suppose this makes any surgery requiring anesthesia evil.

  4. Actually, let me rephrase. Attempting to FORCE OTHERS to be subject to your views on abortion makes you anti-woman. You can believe whatever nonsense you want as long as you don't try to force it on others.

  5. Can anyone find a link to this Capilano decision? I can only find a case in 2008 where the HRT refuses to dismiss it as a preliminary matter, not where there's a decision that their rights were ultimately violated.

    Am I missing it? Something tells me if they'd actually won, there's be a lot of crowing about it on the right wing blogsphere. Or is this just more of the level of reporting on the details of human rights claims I've come to expect from people like Levant and sadly macleans itself?

    • There never was a case after the preliminary decision to which you refer. After that decision the student union voluntarily agreed to fund the anti-abortion club. The assertion in the article that the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal found that the club had been discriminated against is a complete falsehood. In fact, there was a later Supreme Court of B.C. decision involving the same situation at another campus which found that the student union had not discriminated against the anti-abortion club in refusing to fund its activities.

      • Thank you.

        I wish I could say I was stunned that a newspaper wouldn't check into something like that.

  6. Fine, I demand two years severance for wrongful dismissal.

    • So you DO think discrimination against people for their political beliefs is wrong. That is exactly what Uvic's student government is doing. I'm not entirely sure if it is technically illegal, but it is wrong.

      • Your analogy is idiotic. The law is different, and I will not explain it to you.

  7. I agree with the first two points, stifling debate lends credence to the pro-life movement. Hearing a bunch of people froth about how it's a sin to have an abortion won't cause any issues for the pro-choice movement. And i do remember exhorbitant fees for a largely useless student government while I was in uni.

    Third point is simplistic though, the fetus even if considered alive will not always trump the woman's rights, if it's threatening her health there's grounds for abortion regardless of your beliefs. And yes, abortion is primarily a women's issue. I find it extremely condascending and paternalistic trying to tell them what they can and can't do or what they do or don't need to be healthy when it's based on RELATIVE morals. The idea is not to alienate us men, just to point out that we, not being the bearers of children do not have the same stake or responsibility in the argument and therefore we don't have the same say.

    • I agree that women's health is a tough call. However, the way to favour the mother would go against ordinary triage principals. Would you save a young person or an old person, if all else was equal?

      I agree that if a fetus is not considered alive, it is a part of a woman's body, and thus, it has to be the choice of that woman. Not society's choice, and not her family's (many families can be pro-abortion and anti-choice when it comes to their pregnant kids – I would think the Junos of the world are a rare exception). Yet that isn't the key question – we need to tell if a child is alive or not. That is a question of what it means to be human, and is indeed one men have a stake in.

    • If the fetus is threatening the mother's health then it's likely at risk itself (unless it's close to term), so terminating the pregnacy is not necessarily choosing the woman over the fetus, it's choosing to save at least one life rather than let two die.

      That said, even if we agree that the fetus is a life, people will still disagree whether its' worth the same as an already-born human. Some people will always see an abortion as killing a baby (something society should and does find abhorrent), while others see it more like having a tattoo removed (nobody else's business).

    • I tend to agree with the point about relative say. Indeed, as someone who believes that human life and rights begin before birth I have more trust in women to have a more personal understanding on the issue – whatever that understanding is for them – and to tend to have a more 'generous' attitude towards those rights. It's pretty common to hear of abortion polls that show more pro-life support in women than men, although I don't know if those are cherry-picked I've never heard of one showing men more pro-life. In my view men having never had any connection to a life growing inside of them see the unborn child/fetus more often as an inaccessible consequence.

      This is why I think it could be the best solution to the question to have something like a women's referendum on when human life and rights begin, as well as what exceptions might be considered for an unborn child/fetus even after that point. This would make it unquestionable that women's rights on the matter are not threatened while also bringing us to a place where women's rights are not the only ones taken into account. Even that is not quite an accurate way of thinking of it if you consider as I do that an unborn girl has women's rights too.

      • Why not just let everybody make this difficult and complex choice for themselves?

        And it would in no way presume that women's rights were not threatened – the majority of women might choose a result which could threaten a woman.

  8. Why not hold a sign that instead says: "I would be dead right now if my parents aborted me."

    I'm not sure that these kids fully understand the issue.

    • That seems to be assuming that you do.

    • Why not hold a sign that instead says, "I would be 72 years old right now if I'd been born in 1937."

  9. Canadians have always had a diverse view on abortion and always will. You're never going to have a society where the majority actually believes that a baby only becomes human at birth, especially considering new technologies. The Campus should reflect this diversity of opinion. I frankly don't care if I offend pro choice women by being pro life. I don't agree with Islam or Judaism either, but i don't think we should drive muslims and jews off our campuses and ban their clubs.
    Most Canadians favour some regulations on abortion ( over 60%) . Only 1 in 3 Canadians supports the status quo where abortion is legal during all 9 months for any reason. It is hard to believe that the majority of students think that only pro choice clubs should be allowed as the pro abortion rights activists seem to suggest. Canadians have a diverse view on abortion and it is never going to be a settled issue, especially with new 4D ultrasounds showing us the faces and smiles on babies just a few months in the womb, surgeries in womb to correct fetal abnormalities and babies surviving earlier and earlier outside the womb. We also know that abortion increases the risk of later premature births by 45% and multiple abortions by 90%. This is a fact that pro choice groups actually want to prevent women from knowing.

    • The Campus should reflect this diversity of opinion.

      +++

      It does. It's policy is that women can make the choice to have nor not have an abortion as they see fit, respecting whatever view they believe.

    • We also know that abortion increases the risk of later premature births by 45% and multiple abortions by 90%.

      Source. Reputable, medical source.

  10. The elephant in the room is that women are discriminated against when they are pregnant. Pregnancy is not often convenient to boyfriends or employers, and women pay the consequences. If there is to be any room for choice for women, there must be a full debate on the moral consequences of abortion, a good understanding as to why women have the right to refuse abortion, and a good understanding that women have the right to maternity. Without the rigorous opposition to abortion that pro-life has maintained in this country, the pressure on women to abort inconvenient pregnancies would be overwhelming. And given that the women with the highest abortion rates are young university women, it is important that a corporate culture open to life exist on campus for choice to even exist. If there is no respect for those who choose life, university women who choose to carry their pregnancies to term will be faced with a hostile, abusive environment. That is why this kind of abuse of pro-life groups by student's unions is a human rights abuse that cannot remain uncorrected.

    • Full debate by whom? The decision to have an abortion is extremely personal and can be difficult. This is why the last thing a pregnant women needs is these nutjobs waving their placards in her face. Pro-choicers fight diligently for women to have the right to make that decision for herself, FOR HER OWN REASONS AND CONSULTING WHOEVER SHE DEEMS APPROPRIATE. Pro-lifers fight for this right to be taken away.

      • It's interesting that in response to someone laying out the case that there is a great deal of pressure on women not to make their own choice but instead to not to carry the pregnancy regardless of what they may think or desire you simply state that this is not at all so.

      • Women who take their pregnancies to term, despite the difficulties, are grateful to the women who wave the placards that support their right to maternity. Its the raving pro-aborts that would force her into one by dehumanizing her baby that are the real problem.

        • False generalization.

          The sign is in the picture: Pro-choice is NOT pro-abortion.

    • I'm fairly certain that the majority of pro-choice people are not "anti-maternity" as you suggest, but for the right to choose for themselves in their own lives. Remember, it's pro-CHOICE, not pro-ABORTION. You yourself said that much of the discrimination is from boyfriends and employers who are personally inconvenienced by the pregnancy, not against pregnancy in general. Discrimination against pregnant women is an issue of how we as a society view pregnancy (i.e. we do not see it as the miracle it is but instead as a major inconvenience), not of the amount of pro-choice vs. pro-life opinions we here.

  11. Until anti-abortionists come up with some new arguments and cut it with the same old crap they've been peddling for years, I think their voices should be "tolerated" rather than encouraged.

  12. First, to say that abortion is analogous to the Holocaust is offensive, if not absurd.

    Secondly, the representative from the BCCLA seems to be seriously misguided in his understanding of rights and liberties. YPY can assemble and express their views however much they want. But they do not have a right to be directly funded by the student body.

    A resounding majority of students (myself included) do not want their student union fees to be extended to a group that promotes a backwards image of a women's right to the security of her person (which the BCCLA should recognize is upheld by the very Charter they are appealing to in this case). Not to mention my student fees are going to the production and distribution of material that litters my campus with grotesque images of aborted fetuses. Surely they can pay for this on their own dime.

    This is not a debate about free speech. This is a debate about how students' dollars (which we find it hard enough to scrounge for these days) should be spent in order to create the most flourishing campus community possible. The UVIC community wants women to be feel safe and supported by their academic institution. It is an unjust conflict of interest to force women to have to hand over their student union fees to groups that wish to deprive them of their right to decide for themselves when they think it is time to become a mother.

    There are plenty of religious institutions that will provide this group with funding. Our democratically elected student union needn't be the financial supplier of a pro-life organization that goes against the very ideals of the student population at large. They are free to say whatever they want, just not on my dollar.

    We are a free and open campus that wants women to feel safe and supported by the ideals we follow

    • Anyone who has studied the Holocaust and the events that lead up to it will find any number of legitimate parallels with abortion. Just as the smallest of examples, the first gassings were of children with downs syndrome who were in institutions. That's right. The gas chamber was developped to get rid of the unfit, and its first victimes were the Germans own children. Now why have obstetricians in Canada recommended that children with Down's syndrome be aborted? And why do women abort their Down's Syndrome children? Now compare the reasons for gassing the children in trucks that visited institutions to get the job done, with those children aborted in utero today?

      The comparison is intellectually justified, even though you don't want to make it.

      There are a lot of Canadians who are pro-choice, and their children attend universities. Who are you to censor people whose opinions you don't like? I want my student's union fees to support free speech and full debate. I am against censorship. Suppression of the voices of women who refuse abortion for reasons of conscience, or who have suffered as a result of their abortions, is a denial of free choice. for women. For choice to exist there have to be options. Those who would remove options for women oppress them.

      • See, the crazies say they want our time attention for debate and discussion, and then insult our intelligence with this drivel.

      • And I don't want my student fees going to pro-choice, pro-socialist, or pro-gay groups, yet it still happens. Fact of the matter is, if a group meets the requirements to be a club, then they should be a club. It doesn't matter if a majority or a minority oppose it. Perhaps you've heard of John Stuart Mill? Here's a quote for you "If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind." Either you believe in freedom of speech for your enemies, or you don't believe in freedom of speech at all. Now I may not LIKE having my fees going to groups that have opposite views to mine, but I would let them have it anyways.

  13. I view it as an issue of freedom. The government has no right to demand that someone donate their organs, even temporarily, to keep something else alive, human or not.

    If someone believes that every life is so sacred, then why is organ donation not cumpulsory?

  14. You have no right to impose your opinion that Fetuses are not living human beings upon me. Science proves you wrong in any case. That unborn babies have been dehumanized and have lost their rights to life under the law is also a fact. Repressing comparisons of this situation to the Holocaust is suppressing the free speech rights of others. There are plenty of comparisons to be made that are valid.

    You say you are not against censorship, yet you support actions like this one, taken by certain members of the McGill student council. This is hardly freedom of assembly and freedom to say what you want on campus. You can see this for yourself. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lTXw6zIHRQ

    Any group of students may apply for recognition as the student club. And it is the application of arbitrary criteria to pro-life groups that puts the lie to your assertion that students unions can act like the Red Guard in Mao's China. In my university, I do not have the right to decide where my student union fees must go. And I certainly object to the fact that they are being used to suppress groups who have as much right to exist as any other group according to the student's union's own criteria.

    You keep bringing up religion as a red herring in this discussion, as if non-religious people would not also object to abortion.

    The systematic suppression of pro-life groups on campuses across the country is an organized action on the part of pro-abortion activists. To hide behind the fact that you want to prevent people for pressing for changes to the lack of laws we have governing abortion in this country is simply to deny the rights of citizens within a democracy to express an opinion you personally happen to disagree with. And that is not only censorship, but engaging in the active suppression of the rights of fellow citizens.

    • "You have no right to impose your opinion that Fetuses are not living human beings upon me. Science proves you wrong in any case."

      Hold on hold on…

      How am I imposing my opinion on you? I have an opinion and you have an opinion. By holding my opinion, I am not "imposing" it on you. The UVIC student society also has an opinion, and it elects representatives that reflect this opinion every year. Like I said, if enough students feel it as unjust that we deny a group $200 so that they can spend it on printing grotesque pictures of aborted fetuses only to then post them all over campus for women to walk by and look it, then we will vote in directors to give them funding next year.

      "You say you are not against censorship, yet you support actions like this one, taken by certain members of the McGill student council."

      When did I say this? How do you know I support actions like this one? There is no sense in having a discussion if you're going to put words into my mouth.

      "And it is the application of arbitrary criteria to pro-life groups that puts the lie to your assertion that students unions can act like the Red Guard in Mao's China."

      I'll let this comment speak for itself.

      "In my university, I do not have the right to decide where my student union fees must go."

      Well you should. It's your union. You are a member of it.

  15. I disagree with enforcing silence about abortion on the pretext that women who have abortions should never hear them spoken about.

    • I agree with you. Why are you bringing up an irrelevant strawman argument?

  16. I think we should bring back slavery. Yes, on the basis of gender. Women should do what we tell them. They should go back to being property, and they shouldn't have the vote either. And they should have no control of what goes into their body and no control of what comes out.

    Ooops, I guess I'm a hundred years or so too late.

    • i agree :P

  17. Before planning to bring a child into the world, people need to think about climate change. Living conditions are not going to get better, folks. To have children now is to condemn them and their children to misery, as the planet heats up and wars break out over increasingly scarce water and food resources. My advice: use birth control! Have fun, but don't have children.

    • What a screwball theory. The fact is that Canadians are unable to maintain their population numbers. Give the country back to the moose and the grizzlies — don't have a future generation? Go ahead and take the Darwin Prize and spare us your defective gene pool.

    • Colby is that you?

      Reducing people would probably have a positive effect on climate change, but it is draconian, invasive and harsh. Better to outlaw cars and thermostats that go above 15C before children. But the entire point of environmentalism is living so that we can make the choices about having children ourselves, before the environment makes them for us.

  18. No person has the right to kill another. Abortion kills an innocent human being, thereby violating the most fundamental human right. If you don't believe in human rights for the most vulnerable and voiceless of human beings, you don't believe in them at all.

    Veronica Harrison's confusion surrounding the definitions of "harassment" and "oppression" reveals the characteristic ignorance and cynicism of pro-choicers. The moral argument has been made, and those who think that women have the "right" to destroy their own child have lost. At this point, it's only a matter of time before people begin to rebel against the status quo which supports this ongoing violation of human rights. The pro-choice movement is utterly without moral foundation. All they can do is suppress free expression, shout absurd slogans, change the subject, and hope that defenders of human rights go away. This article demonstrates their complete intellectual corruption and desperation.

  19. I disagree with the general stance taken by this article. I feel that saying the funding pro life groups is a matter of freedom of expression is similar to saying the funding of racist, misogynic, homophobic or anti-Semitic groups, as it is a group that supports the removal of rights for a specific group of people, that right being the right to your own body.

    • What you express is merely an opinion that supports abortion. Women deserve better. And those advocating for a better reality deserve a voice.

  20. I was there when YPY's funding was revoked and I was there at the debate. I agree with the general stance of this article.

    Anyone who has actually interacted with members of YPY in person would conclude that these individuals have no hatred for women. In contrast, racist, misogynic, homophobic and anti-Semitic philosophies are founded on hatred of a particular group. This type of slander against YPY club members mirrors comments that were made by members of the UVSS.

    When someone says, "I believe that abortion is acceptable in some circumstances and I disagree with the views of YPY," they are making a straightforward statement against the thesis of YPY. However, when someone says something like, "my opponents' views are callous, racist and sexist," they are making a statement about their opponents' integrity, and this second form of criticism is suspicious. If you are so sure of your position, why not stick to honest refutation? Surely it would be enough to show the fallacy of their point of view and leave it at that.

    I propose that the pro-choice members of Students' Societies across the country feel great insecurity. These nice, hard-working student leaders are so terrified that their politically correct opinion may be mistaken that they don't remember the need to be genuine in their arguments.

    I can't speak for other University pro-life clubs, but to say that YPY members exhibit hatred is not a genuine argument at all.

    • I don't particularly care if they're nice or not. As long as curbing abortion rights is a major part of their reason d'etre, they're promoting an anti-woman policy. It's perfectly acceptable for the other students to not give them money or space.

      • You're right on one count: It doesn't matter if they're nice or not. My point was that most of the criticism is dishonest and arbitrary: "If you don't like what they're saying, call them sexist, racist, homophobic, anti-american, defeatist, fascist, yellowist, elephantist…"

        But you've provided me with an honest refutation, which I appreciate. You haven't lobbed random disparaging remarks at me. Instead you've attacked my position so I can reply intelligently:

        I disagree with the idea that access to an abortion is a woman's fundamental right. Abortion access does not empower, enable or free women. I need to engage you further though. Why do you think that it is "anti-woman" to oppose the practice of abortions?

  21. Regardless of one's opinion on the topic, I think this article did an excellent job of giving an even-handed coverage of both sides of the issue. Great work Macleans!

  22. I would like to clarify one of the points in the article. It states that at the debate Gray "juxtaposed images of bloodied fetuses with photos of corpses from atrocities such as the Rwanda genocide."

    I was at the debate, and yes, there was a graphic video of an abortion, but no images of corpses or any other graphic photos were shown.

  23. The Canadian Federation of Students represents no one but themselves. Without the compulsory student union dues at universities this organization couldn't raise enough funding to last one day. The overwhelming majority of students wouldn't give them a dime. They have always been a left wing bunch of whiners whose members are consistently shown to be living off the government or their parents. They, like most of the local student union organizations, have no respect for the views of others and restrict them in any way they can. Their inability to understand the purpose of university is to engage and allow all ideas demonstrates their intellectual immaturity.

  24. It is unjust for a University/College to fund a club that supports one side of a debate yet not fund a club that supports the other view. It has been stated that the club supporting pro life could quite easily pay for itself yet, could not a club supporting pro choice do the same. You speak of freedom of speech and equality? Listen to your own words.

  25. Regardless of the legalities of the issue, it appears that we as parents and educators have failed to inculcate at the very least humanist values in our children. These young people lack the ability to form a reasoned and humanist response and at the most a faith-based response to why life starts at conception. Why then promote an anti-humanist and savage response among univeristy students who would otherwise abhour violence in any other situation. This is also to deny the rights of the unborn child which should take precedence over the rights of the mother. How else can we correct this mistake in thinking but to actively promote pro-life. As to the argument that universities are not government institutions and are therefore not subject to the same regulations, that is not entirely correct. If they receive public funding and if they receive government contracts than they normally must be in compliance with the Charter and HR policies at the federal and provincial level.

  26. These arguments/debates re: pro-life vs. pro-choice will go on ad infinitum until the moment the Supreme Court of Canada declares that an unborn fetus is considered a human being ( a living person with human rights) from the moment of conception. At this point in time, it is only considered a human being from the moment of physical birth. To blatantly accuse pro-choice adherents of condoning murder is bullyism at its best; the act of murder involves the deliberate taking of the life of a 'human being', which a fetus is not.

    Given all the biblical verses that are used to lambaste pro-choicers, one must also remember that God bestowed upon each human being (thanks to Adam and Eve) the stain of original sin. This punishment from God, was meant to force each person to be responsible for his own choices …'to do good and to avoid evil'. God was to be the sole judge of each person's choice.

  27. Student groups are formed to represent the student body as a whole;although fees are required, resultant donations to relevant groups of interest to the student body are done by expressed interest of the students via representatives on the council. IMHO, there should be no requirement to donate to groups that are a threat to the well-being, physical, moral or spiritual, of all students, including women and women-related issues. Pro-life groups, with their widespread support base, can surely find another $232.00 and should only be invited to talk when they can agree to follow a set format for a debate and to forego the horrific histrionics .

  28. The actions of pro-lifers have gone so far as to demonstrate that they have put themselves on the same level of God, the judge of us all. They morally batter women who have the right to make their own decisions re: terminating their pregnancy; they lambaste their senses with abhorrent graphics to impose guilt; they place blame solely on the women for the fact they have become pregnant; they follow and harass them at health clinics, hospitals and abortion clinics.

    Pro-lifers are directly forcing their Christian views on women who do not always uphold those same views. Their actions also constitute , IMHO, religious persecution against a select group of women, who come from all sectors on the religious spectrum. If pro-lifers are going to the human rights tribunal to fight the withholding of the paltry sum of $232.00 based on a bias towards pro-lifers, then, I believe, pro-choicers should countersue on the basis of the impingement of their own religious rights which are being trammelled by pro-lifers.

  29. What's wrong with being prolife? Isn't everyone should be thinking of?

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