Pro-life students face trespassing charges

  • February 6, 2009
{mosimage}The University of Calgary has charged pro-life students with trespassing on campus for a controversial display they set up in November.

Members of the student club Campus Pro-Life (CPL) had set up a Genocide Awareness Project display Nov. 26 and 27 despite threats from the university of suspension, expulsion or arrest. The display included graphic images of aborted fetuses.

As a result of the charges, the students will need to enter a plea by Feb. 27 and a court trial will be set for later this year.

Leah Hallman, club president, said the decision by the university to press charges came as a shock.

“We had hoped for the best, but expected the worst. However, it is still a shock,” she told The Catholic Register.

In a press conference held Feb. 2, Hallman said it is ironic that the university professes to adhere to principles of promoting free inquiry and debate but would stifle CPL’s endeavour to create debate about abortion.

“By acting on their threats to bring legal action against their own students, who sought to engage their campus with meaningful dialogue on an important issue, the university has revealed a disturbing double standard,” she said.

This double standard is made poignant, she said, by the fact another campus club was using graphic images to protest the atrocities committed against Falun Gong that same day, less than 30 metres away, but was not told to turn its graphic images inward, as the pro-life club members were.

In a November letter to CPL, the university’s lawyer, Paul Beke, had said the graphic images “would likely trigger acts of violence” and that by refusing to comply with the university, the pro-life group was trespassing on private property. The university had also warned that the Calgary Police Service had been asked to “issue the appropriate summonses to the individuals ignoring the notice of trespass” and that the issue might be taken to court.

However, the graphic images did not trigger any public acts of violence and the police did not get involved at that time.

Hallman said CPL will await the outcome of the trial “with indifference,” as members acted according to their consciences.

“In the face of this double repression, which perpetrated horrendous crimes upon the unborn, then sought to cover up the villainy by removing freedom of speech from those who opposed it, in the face of these repressions we could not stand silent,” she said.

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