Youth Protecting Youth

Defending the Dignity of All Human Life


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100,000

One hundred thousand. For some people this number is a reminder of the number of minutes from now until they graduate at the end of this semester. For others, this number is a reminder of approximately how many people live in their hometown, be it Lethbridge or Chilliwack. Personally, this number reminds me of the approximate number of pre-born children that will be killed this year by abortion.

As someone who tries to answer the silent scream of these innocent victims, I sometimes find myself sitting behind Youth Protecting Youth UVic’s Clubs Days table (happening today and tomorrow) inviting my peers to join me in taking a stand for the most vulnerable members of our society. Sometimes I find myself organizing fundraisers to support local crisis pregnancy shelters, or filling out UVic’s application form to submit our $1000.00 bursary for single mothers on campus. And still other times I find myself behind a 3’x4’ “Choice” Chain sign, engaging passers-by in conversations about abortion. What would it look like if our pro-life activities were in direct proportion to the injustice being committed?

What would it look like if for every child that will be aborted this year we had someone sign up for our club? Well, we’d have every UVic student register for our club at least five times, and the line-up at our table would stretch around ring road multiple times. What would it look like if we offered a bursary for every family that will abort their child this year? We’d give away over one hundred million dollars. And what would it look like if there was a “Choice” Chain sign held for every child that will be aborted this year? Unless things change, there would be a consecutive string of unique signs stretching from Victoria to Nanaimo. You would need to drive for almost two hours to see each child’s image.

These statistics are not meant to intimidate those who are considering joining the pro-life movement, nor are they stated to discourage those who are already active within it. These facts should remind us that we have work to do, and that if we work together we can end abortion. Let 2013 be the year you choose to help end this injustice.

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Press Release: Pro-Life Students take Legal Action against their Student Union

VICTORIA, B.C., May 3, 2010 ‑ Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), the University of Victoria pro‑life students’ club, today filed a petition in the BC Supreme Court initiating legal proceedings against the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS).

The lawsuit seeks various court orders all to the effect that the UVSS has acted unlawfully in denying YPY club funding since September 2008, and recently upped the ante by refusing to ratify YPY as an official club for the Spring 2010 semester. In addition, the Clubs Policy has now been amended to specifically target pro‑life advocacy.

University of Victoria student, UVSS member, and YPY president, Anastasia Pearse commented:

“We have watched pro‑life student groups throughout the province, and across the country, face the stifling and discriminatory decisions of Student Societies that deny them funding or club status.

Our aims are to promote choices that protect unborn human beings and their mothers from the harm of abortion.  We should be granted equal opportunity to share our message.”

The students involved with YPY are members of the University community, which is the very place where controversial topics should be discussed and various sides considered. They recognize that it is their duty to stand up to protect the core value of ideological diversity and the fundamental values at stake in this case including equality and freedom of expression.

The controversy that has sprung up in the media around Prime Minister Harper’s recent announcement that Canada will not fund abortions as part of its G8 child and maternal health‑care initiative for developing countries demonstrates that abortion is still a live issue for debate.  Pearse highlights, “To debate is to engage with opposing ideas and in order to fully engage, we must be free to express opposing views respectfully without censure.”

Joseph Arvay of the Vancouver based firm Arvay Finlay is acting for Youth Protecting Youth.


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Accepting Affirmation, Truth and Flowers

By Cameron Côté, proud member of YPY

“Hello, I am a member of the pro-life club on campus. We are giving out flowers today as an affirmation of women’s dignity; would you accept a flower?”

For many of the busy ladies at the University of Victoria, that was all they could take the time to hear as they rushed between classes on Tuesday March 30th, as members of Youth Protecting Youth handed out flowers and pamphlets to any woman on campus who would accept them.

The aim of the day was simple: To affirm the inherent dignity of all on campus, but of the women in particular. This dignity is something that was not given to them as a birthday present from society when their brain reached its full potential. Nor did they receive it in the mail from an unknown sender when they reached puberty, or even from a nurse, when they first opened their beautiful eyes to see a whole new world outside of their mothers’ wombs. This dignity of which I speak was with them from the moment they were conceived, and will be with them until their final breath.

Many women were pleasantly surprised by the affirmation, and, placing the flower proudly in their hair (many blushing), walked away reading a pamphlet, which was a gift that accompanied the flower that explains why many women in our society decide to proceed with abortion. There were, however, a few who did not feel comfortable accepting such a gift. One girl in particular stands out in my mind, with whom I had the privilege of discussing (at length) why it was that she could not accept the flower.

She began by agreeing with me that in our present day and age, society is failing in its duty to provide women with the means to deal suitably with unexpected pregnancies. I argued that although the killing of an innocent child could never be justified by a social situation, women in our society often feel as though abortion is the only way to cope with the terrible circumstances that they are faced with. She countered my argument and said that abortion always needs to be an option in desperate cases – no matter the state of society, but she agreed that society lacks sufficient support for women, and that, with more support, fewer women would be inclined to consider abortion, let alone proceed with it. It was from here that our discussion progressed.

Upon asking her to help me understand what, in her mind, these desperate cases were, she identified the cases of rape, physical inability to carry the child, and overpopulation. We discussed each of these circumstances at length, respectfully hearing the other’s point of view, with each circumstance returning to the simple fact that because an unborn child is a fully dignified human being with personhood, the decision to kill him or her could be compared to the decision to kill any other human being. She had no difficulty accepting that killing any other human being was wrong. This circle of obvious reasoning deeply frustrated her, and after apologizing for the frustration it caused, I admitted to her that that was – without a doubt – where all arguments would return to on such a topic. After accepting that all of her issues were inescapably rooted in the status of the unborn child, she decided to pursue the issue that, although all of these conclusions were correct if it were in fact a child, the “fetus” simply could not be considered a child until after birth.

From here, I not only gently reminded her that she had mentioned earlier that it was in the third trimester that the “clump of cells” officially gained the status of person, but also challenged her to explain what it was about birth that gifted that which was a simple clump of cells mere moments earlier with the full status of personhood. Each of her points was logically examined with the use of a good friend named SLED until she reverted to her original stance that the second trimester was the point of status acquisition. She used exactly the same argument that she had used before, and then unfortunately decided that she could no longer discuss the matter. She genuinely thanked me for the flower and for the time in conversation, and respectfully walked away, flower in hand, reading the pamphlet. Though I knew the situation was not completely resolved, I was confident that I had planted a seed, and I was overjoyed that she had agreed to continue to think about the issue, and that she would return if she had any further questions about the pro-life stance.

Though subsequent conversations were not as long or as in depth, this has been just one of several encounters that I had the privilege of being a part of. We ended the day with a feeling of hope, believing that women and men alike on the campus may have been provoked into personally contemplating the morality of abortion.


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Summary of YPY Controversy: 2008 – 2010

Since September 2008, the UVic Students’ Society (UVSS) board has openly and systematically discriminated against us members of Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) because of our beliefs.

Spring 2008

Youth Protecting Youth did a poster campaign (links to posters found below). It was through the Martlet that YPY first found out that some people were offended by the posters. There was no mention of harassment, intimidation, violence, or hate speech, and no formal complaints were made against YPY for posting the posters.

Summer 2008

Youth Protecting Youth applied for, and was granted club status and funding.

Fall 2008

At the first Clubs Council meeting, on 23 September 2008, it was alleged that YPY was not eligible for funding because it was against abortion, and therefore contravened UVSS policy. YPY was given no notice that such a claim would be made against it. The UVSS Director of Services misrepresented Clubs Council policy by permitting the complaints to be made– there is no policy that states clubs must comply with UVSS policy. As a result, Clubs Council voted to deny funding to YPY.

YPY appealed this decision at the following board meeting on October 6th. The UVSS Director of Services argued that the board should not reverse a decision by Clubs Council. The board remitted the question to Clubs Council for reconsideration.

The UVSS Director of Services chaired the October 21st Clubs Council meeting. She permitted fabricated complaints of harassment and discrimination to be made against YPY, even though YPY had not been given the notice required by Clubs Council policy. Representatives from Students for Choice (SfC) accused YPY of promoting violence through its poster campaign. A UVSS director later admitted that YPY was not given the opportunity to defend itself against these accusations. Contrary to UVSS policy, no investigation of the fabricated complaints was undertaken. Clubs Council again voted to deny YPY funding.

On November 3rd, YPY again appealed to the board. The board allowed a repetition of the fabricated complaints against YPY. Four directors affirmed the fabrications, stating that the posters were a form of hate speech, and were threatening and intimidating. Other directors argued that the board should not reverse a Clubs Council decision. The board affirmed the denial of funding.

In November 2008, YPY once again did a poster campaign, this time posting two of the original posters (see poster links below).

Spring 2009

On 10 February 2009, Clubs Council voted to fund YPY. The question had been deferred from a previous meeting, ostensibly to permit attendance of all interested parties and encourage informed decision making. Without having given notice to YPY, the board reversed the decision at their meeting on February 23rd, claiming that the Clubs Council meeting was not procedurally sound, the board should uphold its pro-choice policy and deny funding to an “anti-choice” club, and women once again had complained about the posters. Directors who had previously insisted that the board should not overturn Clubs Council decisions now argued that it should do so.

On March 23rd, the board chairperson arranged for a presentation to the board by a SfC and Women’s Studies representative without informing YPY. With YPY unrepresented, the representative repeated and embellished the fabricated charges of discrimination and harassment.

At a board meeting on 6 April 2009, YPY appealed the reversal of the Clubs Council decision. The board again allowed the SfC and Women’s Studies representative to repeat fabricated claims. The board refused to permit discussion or rebuttal of these claims or consider arguments against its decision, proceeding to affirm denial of funding in an anonymous vote.

Fall 2009

Clubs Council approved status and funding for YPY at a meeting on 29 September 2009. Those opposed to funding claimed that YPY was supporting racism and anti-Semitism because the club was bringing Stephanie Gray of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform to the campus for a debate about abortion.

On 5 October 2009, the UVSS board rejected Clubs Council’s recommendation and refused to approve funding for YPY. Speakers repeated fabricated charges that the club was engaging in harassment and encouraging a hostile and intimidating environment for women. The UVSS board refused funding because it objected to YPY’s plans to host a debate about abortion.

On October 21st, UVic Professor Eike Kluge debated Stephanie Gray. Almost 400 students attended the debate.

At the board meeting on November 16th, YPY appealed the board’s decision to deny it funding. The board once again refused to grant funding.

Spring 2010

In January 2010, YPY posted the two posters used in fall 2008. At the Clubs Council meeting, three letters were read out, each requesting that YPY be denied status, and using the debate and posters as reasons to deny status. Clubs Council voted to refer the decision of denying status for the semester and funding for a year to the UVSS board.

On February 5th, the Martlet hosted a debate on whether or not YPY should receive funding. Students were given the opportunity to come out and hear both sides of the debate, with Joyce Arthur from the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada speaking alongside SfC, and John Dixon from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) speaking alongside YPY.

On February 8th, the board voted to deny YPY funding for a year, and deny status until an organizational development committee meets and decides on a new policy that YPY and all clubs would have to abide by.

After this meeting, YPY requested that the board grant it a special general meeting. A motion was made at the February 22nd board meeting to grant this request, but was voted down.

Posters used by YPY (The third was posted in spring 2008 only):

Poster 1

Poster 2

Poster 3


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University of Victoria Pro-life Club, Youth Protecting Youth, Stages a Free Speech Protest

On Tuesday, March 2nd, University of Victoria pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), will be holding a free speech protest. The protest will take place from 11:30 to 1:30 outside of the Student Union Building at the University of Victoria (UVic).

The students will be protesting the fact that club funding has been withheld from them for four semesters in the past two years. This semester, after heated discussion, a motion was passed to deny them club status. The club attempted to call a Special General Meeting of undergraduate students to appeal this decision, but their request was denied by the UVic Students’ Society Board of Directors (UVSS).

This semester, YPY once again put up posters from an organization called Feminists for Life. These posters have sparked controversy in the past, and have led to YPY’s current denial of status and funding. The club, however, maintains that while the posters may be controversial, they do not constitute harassment, as has been alleged. Thus, they do not merit the removal of club status and funding.

The message YPY hopes to send is that their right to free speech is being infringed upon.

“In a society with true freedom of speech, people are going to be offended sometimes,” says Anastasia Pearse, president of YPY. “Just because some people disagree with or are offended by a message does not mean it constitutes harassment or is worthy of censorship.”

YPY members believe their message is of utmost importance: if what they say is true, hundreds of innocent human beings are being killed every day in our country. The club seeks to uphold the dignity of all human beings, from the earliest stages of life onwards – including, of course, pregnant women. The posters that have caused so much controversy advocate for better support for pregnant women and mothers in difficult situations.

The university should be a place for open and respectful discussion. This discussion is halted when one side is reprimanded for expressing their views. Through their censorship of YPY, the UVSS is sending a clear message that freedom of expression does not extend to students with unpopular or controversial views.

Links to the posters used by YPY:

Poster 1

Poster 2