Tag Archives: by Theresa

Look… babies!

by Theresa Stephenson

This past month has been a busy one as everyone is settling into the routine of a new school year and the campus has been humming with activity. First during 101 week and then during clubs’ week, uOSFL set up an info table for the club. A new feature this year: Action Life generously shared with us their fetal models, which track the development of the preborn baby from the first to the seventh month of pregnancy. I was so surprised by the reactions they prompted!

Usually I watch people scurry past our table, in no mood to have a conversation with the “old-fashioned-anti-choice-we-hate-women-and-we’re-also-religious-nuts-who-despise-logic” club. But this year I saw genuine curiosity as people approached the table, tempted to look more closely at the models and ask us what our club was all about. Now, some were a little disappointed that we weren’t the obstetrics club, but for the most part I had the opportunity to have many great conversations with people who would normally never even think about the topic of abortion. Time after time, I heard the same reaction when I asked, “What do you think about abortion?” Time after time, I felt like I was having, at root, incredibly similar conversations, as students presented the same questions and concerns and thoughts.

I really found it fascinating to hear different arguments from different people, but each one came down to the same basic question – what is the preborn? A number of times I heard people talking about our table from a few feet away. Some people didn’t approach the table, but one pair of students in particular seemed to answer the question quite succinctly when one girl pointed to the fetal models and turned to her friend saying, “Look…babies!”

Exactly. Babies. And what does abortion do to babies? It intentionally kills them.

As I was speaking with one young man and we delved further into the topic of abortion he said to me, “Your points are logical and consistent. You’re making me sound so hypocritical.” Now I don’t know if anyone walked away those days with their mind changed. But I do hope that the conversations that they engaged in have given them something to think about because this debate is not over.

Sliding Down the Slippery Slope

by Theresa Stephenson

Last week, it was reported that a woman who killed her newborn baby would receive no jail time.

She kept her pregnancy hidden from her parents and gave birth in their home. She then strangled her son with her underwear and threw his body over the fence into the neighbour’s yard. Clearly, this is murder. Clearly…or is it? In the opinion of an Alberta judge, this merely amounts to a fourth-trimester abortion:

The fact that Canada has no abortion laws reflects that “while many Canadians undoubtedly view abortion as a less than ideal solution to unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, they generally understand, accept and sympathize with the onerous demands pregnancy and childbirth exact from mothers, especially mothers without support,” she writes.

The week before that baby was born, the mother could have legally had an abortion in Canada. In the womb, outside the womb – what difference does it make?

A friend paralleled this story with the anecdote of a frog being boiled alive. If you put a frog in boiling water it will immediately jump out. However, if you place it in cold water and slowly increase the temperature, it will not notice the danger and it will be cooked to death.

Canada, I think our moral relativism is killing us.

If Everything in the Garden is Sunny – Why Meddle?

by Theresa Stephenson

As I turned another page on my calendar this week, I saw how quickly this summer has slipped away and how swiftly autumn is approaching, and with it another school year at ol’ uOttawa. Throughout the summer, the team of uOttawa Students for Life has been in correspondence about plans for the coming year. To be honest, I wish I could say that I only looked at this year with excitement –another year to turn our campus upside down! To spread the wonderful pro-life message to anyone and everyone! To stand up for something and be heard!

But I’m ashamed to admit that that isn’t what I feel. I’m scared. I’m scared of the hostility that we will face. I’m scared of being ostracized. I’m scared of the pain that I’ll see. There are no two ways about it: abortion is uncomfortable. It’s touchy and it’s a sure fire way to get your peers upset.

There are times when I don’t understand why I’m in this group. Sure, I’ve made great friends in this club these past two years that I’ve been at uOttawa. Oftentimes though I wish I could be that stranger who sheepishly scurries past the club’s table and, maybe, timidly gives a thumbs-up and keeps walking. Why didn’t I join water polo?

But the thing is, it isn’t about me. It’s bigger than me and my own comfort zone. I’ll tell you right now, if this was about me I’d stay at home and read a good book.

This summer I was introduced to a new television series called Downtown Abbey based in 1912-1914 in England. A secondary storyline follows the youngest of three daughters who is avidly interested in the political movement of women’s suffrage. Certainly it is a noble cause, but when her father questions why she always finds such gloomy causes, she replies, “Because it’s the gloomy things that need our help. If everything in the garden is sunny – why meddle?”

And that’s why I don’t despair of our “gloomy cause.” It’s precisely what I need to be doing, no matter how uncomfortable I am or how desperately I want to give up because everything is not sunny in the garden. No, 300 babies are killed by abortion daily in Canada. Women are being sold a lie under the pretence of “women’s rights,” but instead of the freedom and liberty that they are promised they find only pain and sorrow.

Because of all this, I might not look to this school year with excitement. Instead, I look forward with trepidation at a long and laborious struggle to the day when abortion will be unthinkable.

International Women’s Day

by Theresa Stephenson

Today is International Women’s Day – a day to celebrate the economic, political and social achievements of women. While there have been many significant achievements for women in the past century, I cannot help but view this day with unease. Of course I’m happy to have the right to vote, access to education and gender equality in the workplace. But what about that one “achievement” for women that’s named “reproductive rights”? What has abortion really done for women?

As Patricia Heaton, the Honourary Chair of Feminists for Life said, “Indeed the tragedy of abortion haunts women from all walks of life. Abortion advocates are spending millions to package their tired rhetoric and half-truths in cutting-edge advertising campaigns targeted to young women.” Women are not liberated by abortion, they are degraded. They are hurt. They are emotionally scarred. They are sold a lie.

In Canada, there are no restrictions whatsoever on abortion. Women are able to have their babies aborted at any time during pregnancy and for any reason. In 2007, for every 100 babies born in Ontario, 37 were aborted.

So today, let’s think about all those little babies, half of them girls, who are being killed in hospitals and clinics under the banner of “women’s rights.” Let’s think about the women who have been hurt by abortion. Let’s remember that abortion is a step backwards for all women.

Marking Anniversaries

by Theresa Stephenson and Marissa Poisson

Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States that legalized abortion.  For Canada, January 28 will be the 23rd anniversary of a similar case, R. v. Morgentaler, in which our Supreme Court struck down the abortion law and left a legal vacuum. The Canadian case was brought by three abortionists, while the American suit was filed on behalf of a woman named Norma McCorvey, alias “Jane Roe.” Her view on abortion may surprise you:

Those two landmark cases in North American history have left a legacy of death and deception. Millions of babies have been killed in clinics and hospitals, and millions of post-abortive women have suffered the aftermath of their child’s death. When we sanction ending a preborn child’s life at any point during pregnancy, are Kermit Gosnell’s crimes not the logical extension of our society’s attitude?

Can two supposed bastions of human rights not do better in terms of respecting the most fundamental of them all? Just imagine how many of our classmates, friends and family members are not with us today because of abortion. It’s up to all of us to work towards making abortion a thing of the past.

Food for Thought From a Fortune Cookie

by Theresa Stephenson

You can learn the simplest of lessons in the strangest of places. Last night, I learned a lesson while I was enjoying some Chinese take-out with friends. After we had satisfied our appetites, we opened our fortune cookies. Normally, I don’t place any trust in the messages inside fortune cookies, and I still don’t, but when I opened mine I was struck by the words:

“Stand up for what you believe in even if it’s not popular.”

Let’s face it: the pro-life message isn’t popular. As a pro-life club, we face persecution on campus. We have a hard job – the general reaction of the public is to ignore abortion. And most people will continue to ignore abortion as long as abortion ignores them. But averting our eyes from injustice does not make it go away. That means that our job is to expose the tragedy: to educate students about the 300 innocent lives that are ended by abortion every day in Canada.

This message is what makes us seem so offensive. By forcing people to realize this tragedy, we risk being mocked and ostracized. But it has to get worse before it gets better, or so the saying goes. So, as we start a new school year, let’s be prepared. Let’s stand together with the rest of the pro-life community to make abortion unthinkable. Let’s extend a compassionate and loving hand to the women and men who have been hurt by abortion. Let’s fight the good fight with earnestness and integrity.

No matter how hard the persecution gets, let’s continue to share our message: proclaiming, celebrating, and defending the dignity of all human life from conception until natural death.

I’m a Person: Inside and Out

by Theresa Stephenson

A couple, friends of my family, are expecting their first child. With excitement, I have been shown ultrasound photos and told about the baby kicking and moving. At one of their first ultrasound appointments, the technician explained that the baby was sleeping. What a human characteristic! How incredible, that while still in the protection of the mother’s womb, a tiny life is able to move, to kick, to sleep, to dream, to listen. Yet despite all of these amazing, miraculous things that an unborn baby is able to do, Canadian law does not outline any restrictions for abortion. Abortion is legal during all nine months of pregnancy for any and every reason.

But, tell me, what is the difference between a sleeping child who lies inside his or her mother and one who lies in his or her mother’s cradling arms? Tell me, what is the difference between a baby who listens to sounds and murmurs of his or her parents’ voices while cocooned inside the womb and one who hears the sweet lullaby of his or her mother while lying in a crib? The difference is that one baby is “inside” and the other is “out”.

However, I would like to make the bold claim that in either case that human life is indeed a person. We have posted arguments that personhood should not be based on 1) size 2) level of development 3) environment and 4) degree dependency . Rights and liberties must be granted for all human beings regardless of the factors outlined above and any infringement of these rights is a heinous injustice.

We at uOttawa Students for Life fight against these violations and work to bring an end to abortion.

Equal Rights? Lose Your Femininity.

by Theresa Stephenson

Abortion advocates say that I require an operation to be equal to a man. Apparently, a woman must have free access to abortion in order to exercise the same freedoms as a man.

But, as a young female, I ask: why do I need to divorce myself from my fertility in order to be equal to a man? Why do I need to deny the essence of my womanhood? Why do I need to destroy my natural dignity as a woman for the sake of so-called “reproductive rights”? Why should I change myself to be a man to be equal? I don’t. Functioning female anatomy intact, I am equal to a man.

My equality and my liberation are not dependent on the ability to kill my child. I don’t need that “choice.” I don’t want that “choice.” It degrades me.

This entire debate is wrapped in ambiguity and abstractions. The pro-choice world is obsessed with ideas of “reproductive rights” and “choice”. But what do those ideas represent? What concrete, physical reality do they reflect?

When you only think in such terms, it’s easy to forget that that the “choice” to “terminate” is actually stopping the beating heart of a child in the name of “reproductive rights.” But, abstractions aside, abortion – the willful termination of pregnancy – infringes on the right to life of another human being. When we discard those ambiguous terms we will see what is actually at the root of abortion: murdered babies and wronged women.

I won’t allow proponents of abortion to rob me of my personhood, my identity as a woman. I refuse to submit to the idea that my sexuality must be “reigned in” or mastered by means of a surgical procedure. I don’t need a surgical procedure to exercise my liberty as freely as a man. But a woman’s dignity will only be secure when the dignity of all human life is protected. Both mother and child are equally endowed with the inalienable right to life. And that is equality worth fighting for.

Being pro-life at uOttawa

by Theresa Stephenson

This is my speech from the National Campus Life Network dinner that followed the March for Life, regarding my experience in leadership and pro-life activism on the uOttawa campus.

~ ~ ~

A few days ago I met up with a friend of mine for a chat over a cup of coffee. Our opinions tend to differ on every possible subject and topic. When he asked me how I enjoyed my first year at uOttawa I told him all about the pro-life club – its members, activities, events – and about the amazing things I had learned from my involvement over the past year.

His reply to me was “Theresa, I understand your opinions on these issues. I know you’re pro-life and you can make valid arguments. You’re a rational and intelligent person, but I could name a hundred things that are more worthwhile to protest than abortion.”

He couldn’t be more wrong.

When life and death is in the balance, nothing could be more important. Every year, almost 100,000 beating hearts are stopped by abortion in Canada. Women are being brutally battered, physically and psychologically hurt by these procedures in clinics and hospitals. Families are being shattered. And all of this is permissible by law. All of this is considered the status quo. These issues are the most important to be fighting against.

It’s not easy being pro-life. We’re certainly not the cool kids on campus. At best, our peers might put up with us if we’re fairly quiet about our radical opinions. At worst, our freedom of expression is denied and our voices are silenced. All this makes our work that much harder.

We’re standing up for each person’s right to life while most people ignore it. We’re standing up against injustices and that goes against the grain. It’s a hard thing to do, and I know there are times when I feel overwhelmed by the unfathomable daily loss of human life.

But the dark clouds part and the shadows are dispelled when the truth touches the heart of even one person. Last September, I met a remarkable young woman who has become a very close friend. She was pro-choice. After a couple of months and many conversations, I saw her heart change. She is now actively pro-life. Seeing this one mind change is truly encouraging. Seeing this one person bravely embark in the new territory of pro-life activism is inspiring. One such transformation is the perfect antidote to discouragement.

This past year, I made some incredible friends in the club. The strength and camaraderie in the group inspires me to keep fighting and working. And not only the members of uOttawa Students for Life, but tonight as we gather from various campuses we remain united in the goal to make abortion unthinkable.

It’s about people.

by Theresa Stephenson

Every week I go to the lecture for my mandatory course, Philosophical Issues in Health Care. Every week we discuss various moral dilemmas that confront workers in the medical system. And every week I sit in the lecture hall with other nursing and health science students and discuss medical practices in abstract, theoretical terms: we argue about moral “rights” and “wrongs” and apply these convictions to real-life case studies.

Every week I leave that class rattled and surprised at what my peers have said. We wrestle with topics like euthanasia, the allocation of medical treatment, and neonatal testing. I am floored by the radical arguments that people come up with. In class we often forget that the case studies we mull over are actually real cases, presenting us with real people and real problems. We over-analyze scenarios; we harshly, and often wrongly, judge people’s quality of life. Even though we speak with the best intentions, we get so carried away that we’re more wrapped up in the philosophical arguments than the real, living patients that we will soon be treating.

When we get caught up in philosophical theories we forget what’s actually important – the humanity of our patients.

I have no interest in being a philosopher. Neither Mill’s utilitarianism nor Kant’s ethics serve as my moral compass. Instead, my treatment of patients is/will be guided by their humanity. Only by acknowledging the humanity of each patient can we compassionately serve him or her with integrity and fidelity.

At times, when I listen to my peers talk about human life I fear the future of Canadian health care. I hope that when we arrive in the hospital, fresh out of university, we will know how to justly deal with morally perplexing situations. But if not, if we panic, I hope that we remember the inherent dignity of each human life. Difficult cases are a reality in every hospital in Canada. Human life is in the hands of medical providers: I hope that they will choose treatment over termination and life over death.