Youth Protecting Youth

Defending the Dignity of All Human Life


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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Oh Valentine’s Day. For many, this is a day that leaves us with one of two questions. Some, who have been pampered with gifts of flowers and words of affection from a significant other, ask themselves what they have done to deserve such love and appreciation. Others, who were not pampered with gifts or who do not have a significant other, ask themselves what they need to do in the future to deserve that flower or word of affection.

So often we base our value on what other people think of us, and we attempt to draw parallels between what we have done or what we can do and how much we are valued by others. We have been told on countless occasions that nothing comes for free, and that if we are to receive anything, even a kind word or a bouquet of flowers, we must earn it, maybe by “putting out.” Although some may subscribe to this system, those who are a part of Youth Protecting Youth at the University of Victoria do not, and we want you to know it:

Today, YPY club members will be giving out free flowers. We recognize that your value is not dependent on your achievements, and that your dignity does not rest on what you are capable of. You are a valuable, dignified human being, regardless of what we think, regardless of what others think, and to be brutally honest, regardless of what you think. You needn’t do anything to earn our affirmation. We want you to know that you are valuable no matter what.

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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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International Women’s Day

Today is a day to celebrate all women!  It is a day to be grateful for all the advances made towards equality of all people.  Many victories and many struggles have brought about the acknowledgement of personhood, the right to vote, shift toward equality in the workplace, the right to inherit property, and other advances towards a society that respects all people, regardless of gender, as valuable, autonomous individuals. We have inherited this legacy from many courageous women whose vision of justice was profound and dynamic.  As we respect their achievements, we should also ask ourselves whether we are fulfilling their vision.

How can we say that feminism has been victorious if women are still forced to choose between their education and careers and their children? Feminists for Life is an organization that says “abortion is a reflection that our society has failed to meet the needs of women.” The prevalence of abortion is a symptom of – not a solution to – the problems that still exist in our society. Feminists for Life seeks solutions to these problems because they believe women deserve better than abortion. On their website, you can read quotes from many of the early feminists which indicate that these women would not accept abortion as a way for women to gain equality, and that they saw it for what it was: killing children.

“When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

 

 And therein lies the real question: how can abortion be a step towards equality when abortion law inherently treats the unborn as non-persons. The early feminists fought hard for women to be recognized as persons under the law. What would they think of a society that treats unborn children as non-persons? So often the pro-life movement is regarded as against women’s rights. As Andrea Mrozek of ProWomanProLife wrote in an article entitled “Pro-life doesn’t mean anti-woman”:

“There’s no battle between feminists and freedom. Being pro-life is a distinctly pro-woman stand; it is only for a lack of freedom of speech in Canada today that the debate is rarely framed this way. The abortion debate is only partly a question of rights. It is, more often, a question of life. With each repetition of “my body, my choice,” women’s rights to complete information, to intellectual integrity, to the scientific roots of life, furthermore to her own physical and mental health, are denied.”

 

She goes on to point out that in many cases, abortion does not get to the root of the problem:

“Asking why a woman wants an abortion highlights the real problem. Is it because her parents will throw her out of the home? Is it because she was raped? Is it because her culture demands she produce a boy, yet she knows she is carrying a girl? In each of these cases, abortion does not address the problem, but sweeps it under the carpet. Abortion clinics can’t ask the whys of it all: That’s an infringement of women’s rights — the unalienable right to suffer in silence. Pro-lifers support women, not abortion. Freedom of information has been curtailed such that no one understands how this could work. If abortion is not about another person, as well as the woman, none of this debate matters. If the fetus is a person too, then offering women one life-and-death choice without first fully discussing what is at stake is a denial of women’s rights beyond comprehension.”

 

So while we celebrate the achievements of feminists over the years, let us remember that we are still far from achieving personhood and equality for all human beings, both in Canada and in the world at large. Let us work towards real solutions to the challenges women face. We all deserve better than abortion.

Further links of interest: 

An open letter to pro-choice advocates by a woman who had two abortions can be found here.


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Reflection on support for mothers

An article recently appeared on Fox News, reporting on an organization called Students for Life of America investigating the University of North Carolina’s student health plan. Another organization known as Feminists for Life also offered its reflection on the UNC health plan and the actions of Students for Life of America. In their reflection, Feminists for Life president, Serrin Foster, points out that “the issue is not just the school’s insurance coverage”, but that “it is also common for students to have no maternity coverage in their health insurance” In other words, not only is it a sad reality that abortion is covered by many student health care plans and health packages offered by employers in both the United States and Canada, but there is also commonly very little support for student mothers in general, such as no maternity coverage for students in the health insurance plans. In British Columbia, all abortions are tax-funded. According to the University of Victoria’s Housing website, there are 181 housing units designated as “Family Housing Units” with reasonable rent costs, although in order to be eligible, parents must be taking a full load of courses. In addition, it is recommended that mothers apply a year in advance due to the high demand for these units. The reality for many women is that the prospect of no health insurance coverage and minimal financial support services to help off-set the cost of raising a child can be a significant factor in pushing a woman to decide to abort her child. Women who are pregnant should feel that they have the support to be able to give birth to and raise a child while still being able to pursue her education. As a society, we need to better support women in this regard. Women need to know that there are services and support available to help them to choose life for their child, rather than feeling that abortion is the only option.

 In the meantime, we are very excited to announce that Youth Protecting Youth will be offering an annual bursary for single mothers on campus. This bursary exists to support mothers and help enable them to pursue a university education while still supporting a child.  This bursary can be applied for by completing a General Bursary Application. We hope that this bursary will be a building block in the effort to change the culture and the way society views children in the context of education. It can never be acceptable to kill a born child for the reason that the child would interfere with the education of the parents. We will continue to work towards the day when this will also be true for the pre-born child. For more information about services in the Victoria area, see the “Need Help” section of the YPY blog.


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Echoes of a lecture

Tonight I attended Jojo Ruba’s talk “Echoes of the Holocaust.” It has a plain message: the millions of abortions that are performed each year are echoes of the bloody atrocities which humanity has committed against her own kind. Throughout the centuries, societies have been collectively guilty of standing idly by as her members enacted terrible violence against the weak and marginalized. I do not need to name those atrocities of the past, but I will say that my society is guilty of being apathetic toward the hundreds of children that we are killing everyday within the walls of our hospitals and clinics. I share in that guilt.

Some may disagree with me on this point. Many do not believe that we are killing our own children. Many do not believe that any people are actually being harmed. That is the point of the question, though. I know that it is difficult to hear, and I don’t say this to capitalize on the pain of any past generations. Some did not believe that they were killing their own people as the Jews and Gypsies and gays were being gassed in the concentration camps. Those people were wrong.

But I do not want to dwell on that point. I do not like to speak with a tone of condemnation. Even as I write this, believing and accepting the guilt of my culture, I don’t condemn anyone. I believe that I can name the wrong that is being done, and work to put an end to it, but I do not wish to leave in this note the impression that there is only despair for those who have been active participants in the wrong. I accept the guilt of my own passive participation as well.

As I think upon tonight’s presentation, I recall a comment made by a young woman. She accused Jojo of basing his presentation on the fallacy of “false analogy” because she believes that a human being has to have a certain level of cognitive capacity in order to be a person. Frankly, the analogy can only be false if her belief is true and that is what is being contested. If Jojo’s belief is true, then the analogy is apt.

So, the crux of the question comes when we try to understand the reasoning behind the belief that we are justified in judging the value of others by their capabilities—cognitive or otherwise. What we know is that there is extensive pressure toward abortions for women who are carrying Down syndrome babies (trisomy 21) and other trisomy conditions. The judgement is passed on them is that their lives will be of little value and not worth living. What I know is that I cherish my life experiences with those people I have met who have Down syndrome. I have never met one who wishes that he or she never lived.

I have a friend who’s second child had trisomy 13. She was traumatized by the pressure that was put upon her by her doctor and the hospital staff who urged her to have an abortion. She was given little support when she refused. My friend entrusted her child to the care of those medical practitioners, but they considered the child of no account. But the child was accepted and loved by his family from the time he was conceived until the day he died. His little heart did not have the strength to keep him alive more than a few months after his birth, but his parents’ hearts had the strength to love him through his short life.

So it came to my mind that it is not possible for us to judge people according to their capabilities. Often, neither we nor they will have any control over what those capabilities are. We can only judge others according to our own capability to love them. That is all. Whether man or woman, black or brown, gay or straight, intelligent or simple, born or unborn: our judgments are nothing other than our own successes or failures at love.

The measure of our success can be seen in the world around. The homeless and addicted suffer because of our failure to love. The elderly and the sick suffer because of our failure to love. The imprisoned suffer because of our failure to love. Women suffer the choice between their futures and their children because of our failure to love. Children in the womb suffer because of our failure to love. We have judged them and told them their value by our own capabilities—by our own hearts.

We need a change of heart. We need to understand that we each live not only for ourselves, but for the people around us. We need to understand that we don’t love others because they are what we want. We love them because they are. That is the only reason. We owe them all the love that we are capable of giving.

I don’t know if these words mean anything to those who read them. I don’t know if anyone will believe them sincere. All I know is that they are the words that my heart is speaking after tonight’s presentation. I can only hope and pray that I will live by them from today forward.

Contributed by YPY member Del Myers


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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.