Press Release: Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

March 14, 2012: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ontario students want abortion debate but abortion advocates unwilling to defend their position

Toronto, ON: This March, two Ontario university clubs are hosting abortion debates on campus, but pro-choicers have been unwilling to debate.  Despite contacting over 120 professors, feminist organizations, and abortion advocacy groups, Guelph Life Choice and McMaster Lifeline have been unable to find anyone willing to debate.  Pro-life students from McMaster and Guelph are now issuing a public challenge to pro-choice proponents (specifically professors, doctors, clinic workers, and advocates from pro-choice organizations), inviting them to defend their position on abortion and join in an open and respectful debate.

“There’s been great student interest in having this debate,” states Hanna Barlow, President of the University of Guelph Life Choice.  “But everyone we’ve contacted to represent the pro-choice side has either rejected the invitation or simply ignored it.  It’s very disappointing.”

With the debate scheduled for the end of the month, Guelph Life Choice contacted the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) from the student union for help finding a pro-choice advocate.  They declined, stating, “We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is [sic] something that should be debated because we see ‘pro-choice’ as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable.”

“Unwillingness to debate is something we’ve seen before on other campuses,” states Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director for the National Campus Life Network, a national pro-life student organization.   “Despite accusations from pro-choicers that we’re closed minded and backwards, they are the ones who keep rejecting our offers to engage in dialogue.”

“Anyone who holds a belief on an issue must have evidence to back up their belief,” states Julia Bolzon, President of McMaster Lifeline.  “If pro-choicers are confident in their position, then they should be willing to defend it in a debate.  We hope pro-choicers will rise to the challenge.”

 

For more information or for those interested in representing the pro-choice side of the debate, contact:

Julia Bolzon – President McMaster Lifeline, 647 221 0912, jbolzon@gmail.com

Hanna Barlow – President Guelph Life Choice, 519 830 9072, hannabarlow@gmail.com

Rebecca Richmond – Executive Director, National Campus Life Network, 416 388 0461 director@ncln.ca

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Women’s Rights vs. Women’s Rights

In Canada, it is legal to get an abortion through all nine months of pregnancy – no questions asked. Women might seek abortions because they don’t feel ready to have a child, because they can’t support one financially, or because they did not intend to get pregnant. Or they might seek an abortion because they’ve found out that their unborn child is a girl.
In India and China, sex-selective abortion is extremely common. In most countries around the world, the ratio of girls to boys is approximately 1:1, but in some areas of India it has dropped to around 700 girls for every 1000 boys born (according to the organization ‘Save Girl Child‘ in India). This may come from a cultural preference for sons, the effects of which are more dramatic in countries with a restriction on the number of children a couple can have. Because of this discrimination in the womb, ten million girls have ‘gone missing’ in India alone over the last twenty years, according to Save Girl Child. This trend is not limited to India and China, though; it happens in our own backyard as well, as reported in a recent editorial in the Candian Medical Association Journal.
It seems inevitable that in a country with no restrictions on abortion, we would eventually run into these sorts of moral quandaries. If the idea of aborting girls en masse to satisfy misogynystic cultural leanings gives our collective consciences a twinge, what about fetuses with disabilities? Studies in the UK show that up to 90% of fetuses diagnosed with Down Syndrome are aborted.  In 2009 alone, “2,085 abortions were [due to the] risk that the child would be born handicapped” in Britain, according to the Department of Health; this includes children with correctible disorders such as cleft palate and club foot. When our culture accepts as normal the act of aborting a child who has physical imperfections, then anyone who is less than perfect should start to feel lucky that they made it out of the womb.
Where do we draw the line? Where does the free exercise of one’s ‘right’ to abortion become outright discrimination against women and the disabled? The idea of freedom of choice is being used to prevent women’s lives from starting; your right to choose is in direct conflict with another girl’s right to life. If sex-selective abortion, and the idea of ending someone’s life just because they have a disability, strikes you as an inexcusable brutality incongruous with our culture of equality, then we have to ask ourselves how we can protect unborn children from this type of discrimination. Then we’re faced with an even bigger question: if unborn children have a right to a discrimination-free chance at life, what other rights might they also have?

– Hanna Barlow

[As seen in the Opinion section of The Ontarion, Feburary 16, 2012.]

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