Youth Protecting Youth

Defending the Dignity of All Human Life


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YPY Continues Legal Consultation

As of this writing, Youth Protecting Youth and the University of Victoria Students’ Society’s engaging in legal conflict has failed to reach a final conclusion. The UVSS Board of Directors has voted to remove new anti-pro-life clauses from its policy (changes to its Harassment Policy had discriminated against pro-life advocacy) and grant status, funding and retroactive monies to YPY. Although these measures address some of the requests made in the petition to the BC Supreme Court, two key points remain unresolved: The UVSS hasn’t declared the action it has taken against YPY in the past to be unlawful, and the UVSS hasn’t promised that YPY’s behaving as it has so far will prevent it from being silenced again.

The UVSS must take steps – in a spirit of true reparation – to ensure that it will  act consistently and fairly in the future. At present, we fear that there are no guarantees that the students’ society won’t discriminate against pro-life students in semesters to come.

YPY remains in legal consultation at present, reasonably seeking to secure lasting protection from censorship and discrimination against its members and its message.


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Celebrating and Defending Life

“We are here to celebrate life.” These words were spoken by Pope John Paul II in one of his visits to Canada, and were repeated by Bishop Monroe from the Diocese of Kamloops at this year’s March for Life. Over 2000 participants walked through the streets of Victoria to the legislative buildings, bearing witness to their love and respect for life from conception until natural death. Our celebration of the beauty of life is tainted by forty years of unlimited access to abortion in Canada, but we are not without hope that we can make a change.

The march united people of all ages, representing a variety of religious beliefs from Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and other communities. It was encouraging to see so many enthusiastic youth lead the way to the legislative buildings, carrying the pro-life banners, and cheering loudly whenever they received positive comments from bystanders. As Rev. Rob Fitterer from Emmanuel Baptist Church noted in his address to the marchers, the younger generation has noticed the devastating effects of abortion and the lifestyles that lead to it and is embracing an authentic vision of life. Nowhere is this more evident than on university campuses, where Youth Protecting Youth and other pro-life clubs across Canada are bearing witness to the truth despite facing censorship. Minerva Macapagal from Capilano College reminded those gathered that although pro-life advocacy on university and college campuses may make us unpopular, it is essential; we who understand the reality of abortion have a responsibility to tell the truth.

Rachel Daniels told the truth as she described an authentic feminism to march participants: “True feminism bears witness to life. True feminism chooses life.” We must be compassionate towards women who are contemplating abortion or who have had one, and reach out to them so they too can understand their dignity as women.

“Give up, you lost.” As Rev. Rob Fitterer pointed out, these words have been thrown in the faces of many pro-life advocates in the past four decades. Since Canada abolished its laws on abortion, over three million unborn babies have died, and countless women and men have been hurt; this is abortion’s legacy. But pro-life advocates are not going to sit back and watch as the children of our nation are killed.

Drawing a confident comparison to VE day, Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform spoke of a new day – a day coming soon – when we will celebrate victory over abortion. Jeff Charleson expressed a beautiful foreshadowing of the joy we will feel when this day comes, as he sang his uncle’s traditional First Nations song for the marchers. Each of us needs to work in our own way to save the unborn, and someday soon we will celebrate VA day.

Anastasia Pearse, Eric Kyfiuk, & Catherine Shenton, of Youth Protecting Youth






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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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Freedom of Expression Update: New Policy of Censorship

Recent posts have addressed the dangers of euthanasia and informed about the struggles of pro-life students at other Universities. Here is an update on our struggle for freedom of expression.

Clubs at UVic receive a small sum of money each semester to support their activities. The University of Victoria Students’ Society has denied us this funding – that every other club receives – for the past two years on the grounds that putting up a few small, non-graphic posters that challenge the morality of abortion (first and second posters used) constitutes harassment of students. This semester, the UVSS revoked club status entirely, pending a modification of clubs policy, because we continued to put up the posters in addition to holding a very well-attended debate. We protested against such unfair treatment.

In the last week of this semester, we were offered club status. However, the catch is we will eventually have to sign policy that would prevent us from voicing some central pro-life beliefs. This is an act of outright censorship initiated by our ideological opponents. Note Part F – Harassment of the new Clubs Policy: Amended Apr 2010.

We will do everything we can to stop this. We can’t be silenced when so many women are suffering, and so many children are dying.


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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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Pro-Women, Pro-Life

Today, Youth Protecting Youth is engaging UVic students in a celebration of the life and dignity of all people, but especially of women. Beside a visual display, YPY members are explaining how their club is both pro-women and pro-life. The display shows women in their beauty and dignity at every stage of life, beginning with a picture of an unborn child and finishing with one of an elderly woman.

Our message to UVic today is that abortion is a sign that society isn’t meeting women’s needs or honouring their dignity. We believe in that dignity, so we are celebrating it with a compliment: giving students flowers. Attached to the flowers is this information about where women (and men) can receive support if they are ever facing crisis pregnancy, or dealing with the effects of abortion.

Options Pregnancy:

250-380-6883

info@optionspregnancy.org


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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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In which Catherine explains the basic beliefs of our club, and perhaps comes off as rather forward

Youth Protecting Youth is a pro-life club. What does that mean? In the media we are often referred to as an “anti-abortion” club. This is true, but incomplete.

Yes, we are opposed to abortion. The important question is “why?” As a group of pro-life individuals, we believe in the intrinsic value and dignity of all human beings. We believe this dignity needs to be recognized and upheld in all human beings – regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, age, or perceived quality of life. For this reason, we are opposed to abortion, euthanasia, and any other action that denies the dignity of human beings.

Those who oppose our club often refer to us as “anti-choice”. Frankly, I find this term ridiculous. If I were against choice in general, I would not be in university. I would have failed every multiple-choice test with which I was presented throughout my life. In fact, if I were against choices, I don’t know how I’d function at all.

So let’s finish the sentence. There are specific matters in which I am “anti-choice”. For example, I am against the choice to drink and drive, I am against the choice to assault someone, and I am against the choice to rape someone. I think most people in our society are comfortable saying they are “anti” those choices. Something those choices have in common is that they hurt or kill other human beings. And that is why I have a problem with abortion: unborn human beings are human beings.

So, dear reader, I want to say that I love you. I might not know you, but I know that you’re a human being reading this, and I want you to know that you have value and dignity as a member of the human family. I love you regardless of the choices you’ve made in your life, regardless of how much or little value you may feel you have, regardless of what you think of me.  Sometimes I make mistakes. Sometimes I don’t show this love as I should. But I will work to uphold the dignity of all human beings, including you. I hope you will do the same.