Changed Hearts and Minds at the University of Calgary and Simon Fraser University
by Alanna Campbell
Last week on November 1st and 2nd, the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) was held on the University of Calgary campus. This was the first time in three and a half years that the university didn’t place any censorship type restrictions on the display. It was the 8th time I had participated in GAP on the campus and also one of the best times. The weather turned out beautiful for us and the volunteers were engaged in discussions all day long.
One man paused to take a closer look at the signs. Looking amazed he said “I’ve never seen [the humanity of the pre-born] so clearly before!”
GAP gives us the opportunity to make the issue of abortion clearer to those who identify as “pro-choice” and also for pro-lifers we encounter. I talked to a student who was very pro-life, but unsure of what to say about the situation of rape. I simply asked her, “If something bad happens to us, does it give us the right to do something bad to someone else?” Her face lit up and she said “Wow, thank-you. That really helps.”
Another student spoke to a volunteer and identified himself as pro-life. A couple of questions from our volunteer revealed that the student actually thought abortion was permissible in certain situations. They proceeded to have a conversation and talked through all the situations he could think of. At the end, the student thanked the volunteer and said “You’ve really opened my mind and made lots of good points. I’ve never thought of those things before.”
This week, three courageous young women from the pro-life club at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., SFU Lifeline, went ahead and held GAP on their campus, despite having approval for the event withdrawn by the university the week before. The university set out a requirement that the students turn their signs inwards so that other students couldn’t see them inadvertently. Their club decided not to agree to this unfair discrimination which was based on the graphic content of their signs.
Despite the uncertainty with the university, the students reported great success, with many fruitful conversations. There were more students stopping to look at the display than we had volunteers to talk to them. One of the students saw a young lady who looked visibly disturbed. She looked at the images and stated “This is something you hear about, but when you actually see it… when I saw this I almost started to cry- this is huge!” Another upset male student stopped by the display and gestured towards the signs and said “When you hear about abortions happening you don’t picture this.” He went on to say, “But it’s effective. When people are thinking that embryos are not people, they aren’t seeing this. I’m not going to say I never knew abortions happened, I never thought about how they’re just people.”
Another student stated, “I just spent two hours in stats class and all I could think about was those little fingers.”
Angry pro-abortion students took matters into their own hands when they saw the university wasn’t shutting down our display. They brought boards and rolls of paper to enclose our entire display, and campus security wouldn’t do anything about it. As frustrating as this lack of respect for freedom of speech was, the pro-life students remained calm and took advantage of the fact that many curious students were drawn to the display to see what someone was mad enough to cover up! Many also noticed that it was rather strange for these “pro-choice” people to claim that our display was ridiculous, but that instead of presenting opposing arguments they instead decided to engage in a cover-up.
The other side doesn’t have any good arguments to defend abortion against the visual evidence of slaughtered babies. That is why one of the goals for the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada is “Researching and applying legal remedies to limit graphic anti-choice protests outside clinics, hospitals, schools, and on city streets.” Even they know these pictures work, which is why we have to encourage brave students to continue to show these pictures on their campus and engage their peers in dialogue, changing hearts and minds about abortion.
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