Monthly Archives: April 2010

Fighting the good fight, the good way

by Oksana K.

A few weeks ago, one of my professors gave a lecture comparing two iconic figures of the 1980s Canadian abortion debate, one of whom was pro-life, and the other, pro-choice. His argument was that, apart from their differing stances on abortion, the two fought with the same attitudes and tactics: on the upside, both were extremely passionate, but they were also both rather arrogant, and both became lawbreakers in the pursuit of their causes. Their differences, he suggested, did not go much farther than their ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’ labels. If not for that, they may as well have been the same person.

The lecture brought me to an important realization: to “outsiders looking in,” the way in which we fight against abortion may say far more about our cause than what we are actually fighting for. That idea got me thinking about my own experience as a pro-lifer.

I got involved in the pro-life movement last year, when my high school law teacher told my class that we’d have to write a position paper on a controversial issue. I chose abortion as my topic, but I didn’t know much about it at the time – I understood, vaguely, what the procedure entailed and how fetal development progressed, but nothing prepared me for what I was about to learn.

The first time I saw a photograph of an aborted child, I stared at my screen with tears streaming down my face. I couldn’t get the image out of my head for weeks. The photo didn’t just leave me concerned — it left me heartbroken. Soon after, I began visiting sites like standupgirl.com to read stories of post-abortive women who looked back on their decisions with regret. Each one left me praying and grieving, and I felt an unexpected connection with these women, any of whom could have been my mother, my sister, my best friend. For the first few weeks, I immersed myself not in statistics and legal discourses about abortion, but in the names, faces, and memories of those it had touched.

As the deadline of the essay began to draw near, however, my focus shifted from caring about the people involved to winning the debate – making a bulletproof argument, convincing my classmates, winning over my teacher, and ultimately getting a good mark. I continued to stumble upon images of aborted fetuses, but I scrolled by them without a second look. I skimmed past the stories of abortion recipients, only pausing to read them when I thought they’d be of use for my project. Phrases like ‘dismemberment,’ ‘suctioned limbs,’ and ‘crushed skull’ ceased to shock me. I’d become desensitized, but that, to some extent, is natural. The troubling part was that I had began viewing these stories of victims as mere fodder for a good essay – as stories that mattered to me only insofar as they helped along my argument. I tried to seek out the most shocking statistics I could find, forgetting that one cleanly-executed abortion with no complications was just as much a tragedy as thousands with more problematic consequences.

It was only after the pressure of the deadline was past and I had a chance to reflect that I realized in my quest for making the best arguments, I’d assumed the very same attitude I that resented in the pro-choice side. To them, the 100,000 abortions that happen in Canada each year are not 100,000 unborn daughters, brothers, or cousins, but 100,000 pieces of tissue that can be removed and disposed of at will. To me, 100,000 abortions became not 100,000 people, but 100,000 chances to win a debate. In fighting against abortion, I had dehumanized the very people I was trying to prove human.

Since then, I’ve realized that, although winning is extremely important to pro-lifers, equally important is how we fight this battle. We need to set ourselves apart with more than just whether there’s a ‘life’ or a ‘choice’ suffix tagged onto the end of our ‘pro-‘ label. We need to fight in such a way that, 3 decades from now, no professor will be able to tell his class that, while our ideologies were different, our attitudes and actions were basically the same as those of the other side. And we need to remember that the strength of the love, concern, and compassion which drive our cause can speak infinitely louder than arguments of words.

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Self-Development Day

by Reita S.

“Branding” is not a popular topic for pro-life clubs or non-profit organizations. We like to think that if we all try very hard, then people will just like whatever we do.

This isn’t true – uOSFL tries very hard to cultivate an image, representative of the sort of organization we want to be.

As the newly elected media and promotions coordinator, my request to you, our readers, members, and subscribers is this: How do you see uOSFL? What do you think characterizes us? What colours, images, words, or phrases do you associate with us?

I am very interested in collecting your feedback and will then be producing such things as an official club logo, business cards, etc. We want what we see for the club to reflect what you see us as.

Please respond!

HIV and … The Pill?

by Elizabeth Tanguay

Many women are encouraged by their doctors to take the “Pill”, as it is commonly called. Sometimes even as young as 13 or 14. What women aren’t told are the numerous harmful side effects of this hormonal contraceptive; increase risk of breast cancer, sterility, depression, premature aging of cervix (basically, every year you are on the pill, your cervix ages two years, sometimes resulting in sterility), etc. More recently however, about 50 studies have shown that there is also an increased risk of contracting HIV from being on the pill as well. This amazing article explains exactly how.

Looks like sexual freedom has a pretty hefty biological price tag. The worst of it is that this hits women the hardest, becoming another way for women to be abused. Women aren’t being told, and contraceptive companies are making money off of hurting women.

As a club, uOSFL does not take a position on contraceptives.  However, we are concerned when medical interventions, such as the prescription of the pill, occur without full disclosure to the patients about the implications and side effects.  Furthermore, the pill has been documented by many doctors to cause early abortions (for example, if the pill fails to suppress ovulation and conception occurs, the pill renders the uterine lining inhospitable to implantation, causing the embryo to die).  We are committed to finding and sharing information we feel is helpful and informative.

Pro-Life Spin on Earth Day

by Amanda Hennessey

I realize Earth Day was yesterday, but I wanted to remind you that while we’re celebrating the glories of nature on Earth Day, we should also take this time to think of Nature’s greatest gift: life. Respecting the Earth we have been given is definitely important, but why are we putting so much energy into saving the trees when we could be saving babies?

Update: Bill C-384 Defeated

by Garnet

The motion to move the Private Members Bill C-384 to committee stage was defeated today in a vote of 59 in favour and 228 opposed, which means this bill is defeated.

This issue, however, is far from being decided in Canada. We must continue educating our peers about the dangers of euthanasia and assisted suicide. We must remain steadfast and resolute in our fight for the dignity of human life — from conception to natural death!

Bill C-384 Vote Today

by Garnet

Our elected Members of Parliament will vote this evening on Bill C-384, the “Right to Die with Dignity” bill proposed by Bloq MP Francine Lalonde.  This vote will decide whether the bill is suitable to move to the next stage in Parliamentary procedure: the committee stage.  Five or six of us were in the House of Commons yesterday to hear the final debate on this bill during Private Members’ Hour.  Here are a few reflections.

The house was a lot emptier than I expected it to be.  Very few cabinet ministers attended the debate, but we did see two of our pro-life heroes MPs Brad Trost and Maurice Vellacott.  After a discussion about representation by population (or something) was finished, the speaker of the house was asked to recognize that the clock was at 5:30 p.m., which meant the Private Members’ Hour was to begin.

Liberal MP Mauril Belanger from Ottawa-Vanier spoke first. He called for more dialogue on the issue, and will vote in favour of the bill going to the committee stage.  He also called for clearer definitions of terms like euthanasia, assisted suicide and “dying with dignity”.

Next was NDP MP Bill Siksay from Burnaby, BC.  He pledged his support for the bill, insisting that the right to die would not turn into the duty to die.  He is committed to providing choice for those that wish to end their lives.

Bloq MP Nicole Demers from Laval, QC also spoke about providing choice.  She said,

As long as one has a life to live and wants to live it, life should go on. However, when an individual can no longer endure the pain they are suffering, I want them to have choices.

MP Nicole Demers

After hearing just about enough choice rhetoric, Conservative MP Tim Uppal from Edmonton spoke with the voice of truth.  He is opposed to the bill and does not believe that doctors should be given the authority to end a life.  I was waiting for him to mention the Hippocratic Oath, but he didn’t.  He also expressed concerns with the bill itself, saying the scope was much too broad, and the safeguards for informed consent were not sufficient.

Liberal MP Mike Savage from Dartmouth, NS, spoke next.  He told an emotional story about his parents, who both died of cancer six weeks apart. Even though his parents suffered, he said, they were still able to be in control of their lives until the end.  I liked his emphasis on palliative care:

Let us focus on palliative care and home care. Let us provide the supports that people need in their time of need. Let us be very mindful of people with disabilities, particularly people who are not always able to make decisions on their own and who rely upon others for support, guidance and the everyday aspects of their lives.

MP Mike Savage

NDP MP Jim Maloway from Winnipeg, MB also spoke against the bill.

I am concerned about the point made by some members that if we were to adopt this measure, it would cut back the impetus to improve palliative care. As long as assisted suicide is illegal, the pressure will still be on governments and jurisdictions to develop palliative care as quickly as possible. If we passed legislation like this bill, then the pressure would be off.

MP Jim Maloway

He also expressed concerns with the way the issue has developed in Holland, where the minister who introduced the euthanasia bill to the Dutch Parliament has since changed her mind.  He advocated for increased support for palliative care programs.

The last MP to speak before Ms Lalonde had the floor to respond was NDP MP Charlie Angus from Timmins, ON.  He also opposes the bill.  He also advocated for increased support for palliative care.

It is possible to treat people with dignity right through the final moments. However, that has to be a decision we make as a society and a commitment we make to each other that we will be there as a society, we will be there with the medical system, we will be there as family and we will be there as a community.

MP Charlie Angus

Then Francine Lalonde had an opportunity to respond.  She spoke quite passionately about the issue.  For Lalonde, someone who has fought cancer herself, this issue is somewhat personal.  She concluded with this:

I can tell you that when I wrote that [newspaper article in 2005], I did not know what unbearable pain was. Now I do and I have learned that medicine, with all its progress, can only provide help with side effects such as hallucinations or other terrible effects to the body. We have to have the right to choose. I am speaking on behalf of the vulnerable. They are the ones who need this type of legislation the most because only this type of legislation will allow them to be the people they choose to be. There are currently many places where people can die and with all the instruments available to doctors, it is possible to help people die without them having to ask.

MP Francine Lalonde

It is the vulnerable that have the most to fear if this bill passes. As is seen in European countries who have legalized euthanasia, the “right to die” can easily become “the duty to die” and “the expectation to die”.  This is symptomatic of a devaluing of human life.  I hope this is not happening in Canada, but so much of what I hear and see tells me it is happening.

Dr. Catherine Ferrier in a letter to the editor in the National Post yesterday says it best.

. . . the slippery slope has definitely materialized in jurisdictions where euthanasia is legal. In the Netherlands, euthanasia is administered routinely to patients who are not terminally ill but rather have chronic diseases or psychological distress; to patients who are incapable of consenting or who are capable but were not consulted; and to children, including newborns. Dying with dignity should indeed be a right for all Canadians, but Ms. Lalonde’s proposal of allowing doctors to kill patients is the worst possible way of reaching this goal.

Dr. Catherine Ferrier

We will be going back to the House this evening to witness the vote.  I hope our politicians will have the courage to stand up for the dignity of human life and oppose this bill.

*quotes taken from a transcript of the debate on OpenParliament.ca.

Something Interesting

by Dante De Luca

I admit that I was rather hard pressed to come up with something to write about today. I did not feel like writing a heady philosophical article (although I probably could have gone over the subtleties of the Principle of Double Effect mentioned by Dr Leiva at our last event); nor did I feel competent writing a heartfelt plea to our readers’ sensibilities (especially after some of the ones we have featured already on this blog). So I decided to peruse the archives of the internet for something different and exciting to present to you for your reading pleasure today.

After surfing the web for a while I had found a few potentially interesting but ultimately disappointing resources, such as Treebeard For Life! and this particularly dreadful pro-life Flash game, not to mention some truly atrocious stuff like Masters of Horror – Pro Life and AbortionMan (via Jill Stanek). However, I did manage to find a couple of links which I hope at least some of you will find rather amusing.

The first of these is a review by Clare Siobhan of “The Empath”, episode 67 of Star Trek: The Original Series. Despite the strong religious focus of the article, I find it appropriate for the blog due to the strong connections she points out between the Vians’ attitude and our pro-choice culture. A small excerpt:

I’m willing to put aside my incredulity in order to examine the Vians more closely. They possess unspeakable power, and unspeakable arrogance. They think they can declaim from on high which planet’s population they will save. A population must first prove itself “worthy” to be saved.

This is sick.

But isn’t this is the way human beings, particularly scientists, think? Modern scientists have the power to create human life in their laboratories AND the power to decide which of the lives they create are worthy to be saved. Medical doctors decide whose “quality of life” is “acceptable” enough to justify to continuing treatment.

The second link is a rather funny news story. I am sure that most (if not all) of you are familiar with the analogy between the pro-life ethos and The Matrix; the difficulties of challenging the mainstream world-view are well-known and have been discussed since long before Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. But when someone feels the need to do a Mr Anderson impression at a pro-life event, that’s just hilarious ☺.