Youth Protecting Youth

Defending the Dignity of All Human Life


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March for Life 2011

Tomorrow, May 12, the March for Life is taking place in Victoria. All are welcome to join in standing up for the dignity of all human life. Speakers at the Victoria March include Archbishop J. Michael Miller of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Rev. Dr. Robert Fitterer of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Victoria, and international pro-life speaker Rebecca Kiessling.  The full schedule of events is available here.

Marches will also be taking place across Canada in places such as Ottawa, Edmonton, and Regina.


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Silent No More makes an impact

Last Monday, March 28th, about 50 people went out of their way to stop in front of the SUB and listen to the stories of three courageous women as they spoke of how abortion has affected each of their lives. The fact that these women were sharing from their own experiences made the presentation quite powerful. A number of students who heard the presentation reflected on what the message meant to them. The event’s emcee had this to share:

I was riveted by the power of all three presenters’ speeches. I find it’s difficult to get first-hand accounts of abortion, because it is not a subject I feel comfortable asking about, nor one that women freely talk about. After the presentation, being a healthcare worker, I asked a colleague for her anonymous experience with women who have had abortions (I was emboldened by the presentation) and she said it was all but universal that these women have extreme difficulties post-procedure. She added that many of them feel few immediate effects, but develop psychological problems even a decade later. This made me think of cigarettes: perhaps I want to smoke, but I should be made aware of the long-term effects.

Another student shared this with us after hearing the stories:

The Silent No More Awareness Campaign was a shocking snapshot of life pre and post-abortion. I was surprised to hear that all three speakers chose the abortion unwillingly and out of fear, to mask the shame of admitting they were pregnant. It was particularly numbing to know that one woman’s mother and grandmother drove her to the hospital, exterminating their grandchild and great-grandchild in the process.

Although a large number of the students who came to listen to the speakers were pro-life, a large group of other students professing to be pro-choice were also present. One of YPY’s executive members shared this experience after interacting with some students:

I had the privilage of speaking with a number of students throughout the day, some of whom professed to be “pro-choice” and some of whom professed to be pro-life. … Two of the students who had stopped to observe the campaign outside of the library said that they were personally opposed to abortion. After asking them whether or not they were personally opposed to rape, and whether or not they felt they would be placing their subjective morality on someone who was not opposed to rape, they came to understand why abortion is not merely a matter of personal preference or belief. If any human life has value, then all must have equal value and must be protected.

We are extremely thankful for the people from Silent No More Awareness Campaign for coming and sharing with us their experiences. Many students were touched and many more went away thinking about the issue and how it not only affects the lives of pre-born children, but all who are involved in the choice of abortion. For more information about the Campaign or more personal testimonies about abortion, see their website here.


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Silent No More Awareness Campaign coming to UVic

March 28th, 2:15 PM, Student Union Building, UVic

 

In my experience, one of the most powerful ways that I have come to know and accept certain ideas or messages into my own life is through personal testimony. Learning through the personal testimony of others can be a powerful way to learn how to deal with a personal situation. As a club that seeks to uphold the dignity of all human beings, it is important for us to remember that not only does abortion kill pre-born human beings, but also that it may deeply hurt the people who make that choice.

 

YPY invites you to come hear a group of speakers from the Silent No More Awareness Campaign as they share their personal stories: how abortion affected their lives, and how they have healed. They speak from experience and their stories are very powerful. They will be speaking outside the Student Union Building at around 2:15 on Monday March 28th.


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Embryo Research: Experimenting with Humans?

Ever wonder what embryonic stem cell research is? It is essentially an area of research involving the use of human cells that have the ability to differentiate into many other different types of human cells. However, how researchers go about acquiring these cells is a topic of ethical debate. A reflection on this topic and how it relates to the abortion debate can be found here in an article by Abort73.com.

This Tuesday, March 15th, Youth Protecting Youth is hosting a presentation by Dr. Clement Persaud on the topic of embryonic stem cell research and the ethical questions associated with this process. The presentation will begin at 6:00 PM (in the Bob Wright Science Building, room B150), and will feature a presentation of approximately 45 minutes regarding embryo research, human embryo hybridization and other related biological processes. He will address the ethical issues involved with such procedures and propose practical points of action. This presentation is particularly relelvant to any student or person in the field of biology, medicine, embryology, or ethics. There is no cost to this presentation. We invite you to join in this event which will be sure to be very informative.

 


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Pro-life club sues Carleton University

 

Yesterday, the pro-life club Carleton Lifeline officially sued the University of Carleton for their discriminatory treatment of the club this year. These actions primarily involve the university’s response to Carleton Lifeline seeking to display a controversial display that the administration of the university deemed offensive.

Youth Protecting Youth, having experienced discriminatory treatment from the University of Victoria’s Student Society in the past and present, stands in solidarity with Carleton Lifeline and other pro-life clubs on campuses across Canada, as we are all seeking to share this unpopular message that life should be protected from conception to natural death. For the full press release from Carleton Lifeline, visit their blog here.


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UVSS Takes Action against YPY

In October of 2010 we hosted Jose Ruba of CCBR, who gave the presentation, “Echoes of the Holocaust.” The UVic Students’ Society Board of Directors has now voted in favour of a motion that will censure YPY for hosting the event because they allege that our actions contravened the club harassment policy. YPY is specifically being reprimanded for advertising the event in such a way that it “misled” students, and allegedly harassed them as it compared abortion to the Holocaust. There seemed to be little consensus at the UVSS board meeting as to whether harassment had actually occurred: many board members seemed to think that since people had been upset, something needed to be done to deal with YPY, whether or not we had actually broken any rules.

 

The Motion:

Whereas a Complaints Committee was struck in response to complaints received regarding an event called “Echos of the Holocaust” hosted by the club Youth Protecting Youth; and

Whereas the complaints committee investigated several different complaints; and

Whereas by hosting an event “Echos of the Holocaust” Youth Protecting Youth allowed for people to be misled about the nature of the event and the Complaints Committee deems this to be in violation of the harassment policy, clubs policy part 2; and

Whereas significant concerns were raised by students about off the conduct of campus groups such as, “The Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform”; and

Whereas the UVSS would like to find long lasting, proactive solutions to reoccurring issues; therefore,

BIRT the UVSS investigate the possibility of mediating with Youth Protecting Youth to help prevent further issues; and

BIFRT Youth Protecting Youth be censured for violating the harassment policy found in clubs policy part 2; and

BIFRT the Political Action Committee hold a restorative justice event; and

BIFRT legal counsel be consulted to investigate if there can be changes to policy that would address concerns around the conduct of off campus groups or speakers.

We hosted the presentation because we believe we continue to experience “echoes of the Holocaust” today. Just as the Holocaust and past genocides are characterized by their unjust denial of personhood to a group of human beings and their systematic destruction of this group, so too do we see denial of personhood and systematic destruction with abortion in our society – the group targeted is the unborn. In two previous blog posts we addressed this comparison and the false accusations made about the event.

Yes, we knew that some people would be offended by the presentation. But what are we supposed to do? Stay quiet to avoid offending some people, while we silently watch 100,000 Canadians die every year because of abortion?

Let us remember that feeling offended and emotionally upset because one disagrees with a viewpoint does not mean one is being harassed. After all, no one has a legal right to be free from offense. Students who see and dislike our posters are not being subjected to a “hostile, intimidating, threatening or humiliating environment.[i]” The Clubs Harassment Policy states that harassment is defined as “treatment” of a person. If merely expressing our beliefs in advertising constituted “treating” people in a harassing manner, then no one would be able to express his or her views without fear of censure.

We are truly sorry that some people felt emotional or upset when they saw our posters. But abortion is emotionally upsetting. We do not want any woman or child to be hurt by abortion, and therefore want to provide students with as much information as possible so they can choose life-affirming options for themselves and their unborn children. This presentation was one way to express these beliefs.

The presentation did not pose a threat to anyone who attended; we are all adults capable of choosing for ourselves what we want to believe, and this presentation did not force anyone to do anything. We simply stated that genocide is horrible, the Holocaust was horrible, and we see that abortion is horrible because like the Holocaust and other widely recognized genocides, it involves the denial of personhood to and subsequent killing of innocent human beings. We wish none of these things ever happened, and we want to better uphold the dignity and value of every human being, born or unborn.

It is unfortunate that the UVSS Board of Directors has chosen to censure YPY and thinks it is necessary to mediate with us and host a restorative justice event. Although we welcome and encourage dialogue on the abortion issue, we have not harassed anyone, and so the actions taken by the board are based on a false “guilty” verdict. In addition, we worry that a policy made to govern who can and cannot speak on campus wouldn’t be applied equally to all clubs, and could be used to censor YPY.

The continued mistreatment of campus pro-life groups is still receiving much media attention, as can be seen in this recent MSN article. Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, cautions student unions that attempt to silence pro-life groups, as doing so sets a precedent for future debates. “When they’re approaching this issue, they should not diminish their responsibility toward ensuring that university campuses are places where ideas can circulate freely.”


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YPY Member Interviewed on “The Koala Bear Writer”

As part of National Sanctity of Life month, Youth Protecting Youth’s current vice-president, Catherine Shenton, was interviewed by Bonnie Way, writer of the Koala Bear Writer blog. In the interview, Catherine shared some of her experiences from working in the pro-life field, as well as gives some insight into what YPY does on the campus of UVic. The interview can be read here.


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Latimer granted full parole

Robert Latimer, who killed his daughter Tracy in 1993, has been granted full parole. Tracy had cerebral palsy. Here is a reflection from Rebecca Richmond of NCLN on the matter, pointing out that while cerebral palsy made Tracy’s life more difficult, it did not make her life any less valuable:

“The headline of the CBC article jumped out at me this morning, bringing with it many memories and a good deal of anger.  I was only 6 when Robert Latimer killed his daughter Tracy, who was 12 years old at the time.  I recall my mother’s fury and the letter-writing campaign she helped organize to inform politicians of the significance of this issue.  When I was a bit older and Latimer was appealing his sentence at the Supreme Court, I joined her efforts.  The leniency shown towards Latimer angered me then, and angers me now.  Yet what concerns me even more is the absence of condemnation of his actions on the part of the general public.

Consider the reaction to the murder of Karissa Boudreau, strangled to death by her own mother Penny.  Public outrage was enormous and the judge who ruled on the case told Penny, “You can never call yourself mother.”

Yet, if you read the comments posted on today’s article with news of Latimer’s full parole, you will see an entirely different reaction: Latimer is welcomed back, called a hero, and even suggested as a Member of Parliament because of his ‘integrity’.  It seems to me that the only thing more horrific than a father killing his daughter and calling it “love” is having the general public sympathize and support that father.

Growing up, I knew a young man with cerebral palsy.  The doctors said he would never walk or communicate.  Well, he proved those doctors wrong.  Life was difficult for his family and for him, yet his value was no less.  And as we grew up with him at school, we were taught that love meant sacrificing a bit of ourselves.  We took turns spending lunch hours with him.  We started learning sign language to better communicate with him.  Eventually the rest of the class moved ahead in grades, we moved into a different wing of the school and eventually to a different school.  But I don’t think we’ll ever forget our time with him, the wide smiles he gave us and the laughter that we shared.  He enriched our lives and made us better people.

I don’t doubt that life was difficult for Tracy and difficult for her parents, who struggled to see her suffer.  But how do we measure and quantify suffering?  Tracy was described as a generally cheerful girl who loved music and visits to the circus.  I’ve known people – with no physical pain – whose suffering was so deep they could not even smile.  Yet their right to life was never questioned.  So why is it that shooting a severely depressed teenage daughter, for example, would outrage the public while gassing Tracy, a cheerful 12 year old with cerebral palsy, is considered compassionate?

Tracy did not have the same capabilities as many of us.  She lived her life differently and was quite vulnerable, vulnerability her father took advantage of.  Her dependence and her simple mental state do not give us, however, any special right to determine her life’s value and whether or not we will care for her or kill her.

The reality is that love involves sacrifice and it means suffering alongside those we love.  And no matter how we spin the story, it never means killing.

For more background, see the Lifesitenews article here.”


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Carleton Lifeline Aftermath

Earlier in the term, we reported on an event at Carleton University, in which 5 students were arrested for trespassing while attempting a peaceful pro-life display on campus. That post can be found here. Since then, a number of further events have occurred as a result. The club had it’s club status and funding revoked by the Carleton University Students Association (CUSA), resulting from a disagreement over statements in the club’s Constitution. A series of letters have been sent back and forth between the CUSA and Carleton Lifeline, which can be found at the Carleton Lifeline blog. Most recently, Carleton Lifeline has threatened to take legal action against the CUSA regarding the de-certification of Carleton Lifeline and the manner in which it was done. A press release regarding this matter can be found here. Youth Protecting Youth stands in solidarity with Carleton Lifeline and will continue to oppose discrimination based on political and ideological values.


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Links on comparing abortion to genocide, and free speech on TV

As the date of the “Echoes of the Holocaust” presentation gets closer, and the controversy continues, I invite you to read an excellent piece about the comparison between abortion and the Holocaust (as well as other human rights abuses) written by Zuza Kurzawa, the president of the pro-life club at Queen’s university in Ontario. Zuza was the only non-Carleton student to be arrested October 4, and has written this in response to criticism she has received in regards to her involvement with pro-life outreach that compares abortion to genocide, particulary demands from students on her own campus that she make a formal apology for such comparisons. Definitely worth reading:

http://queensalive.blogspot.com/2010/10/zuza-kurzawa-response-to-critics.html

Also of interest, discussion of the arrests at Carleton and of free speech on university campuses in general on the Michael Coren show tonight.