B.C. pro-life students and community members pose at an event hosted by the National Campus Life Network March 10 as part of Life Week. Their shirts are part of the “We Want the Debate” campaign. Photo courtesy of the National Campus Life Network

Life Week debates create dialogue on B.C. campuses

  • March 22, 2012

For the first time, several pro-life groups on university campuses in British Columbia held Life Week simultaneously to bring the abortion debate to their peers.

“They debated the morality of abortion and whether abortion should remain legal,” said Anastasia Pearse, western campus co-ordinator for the National Campus Life Network. Jojo Ruba from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform debated the pro-life side while various philosophy professors took the pro-choice side.

Life Week events ran from March 8 to 23. Participating universities included Capilano University, the University of British Columbia, the University of the Fraser Valley, Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria and Trinity-Western University. 

“UVic are at a bit of a disadvantage because their student society has said they won’t be able to book any public space, so they just distributed surveys and resources and did some pro-life chalking,” said Pearse. Youth Protecting Youth was censured in February for violating the university’s harassment policy.

Pearse said Life Week was held in response to a growing movement across the country calling for a public debate on abortion. She pointed to censorship of pro-life university clubs and the recent motion by MP Stephen Woodworth asking for Parliament to study the Criminal Code’s definition of a human being as examples of renewed interest in the abortion issue.

The fact that these debates have been allowed to happen really show that our universities are embracing their core values of freedom of expression and inquiry, said Pearse.

“They are allowing students to talk about controversial issues.”

And the debates were received in a respectful way, adds Pearse.

“All the students who attended the debates — and there was a mix of pro-life and pro-choice students — they were all respectful of what the speakers had to say.”

Turnout was high, with the University of Fraser Valley hosting more than 100 people. “People are talking about abortion, which is key, because when an issue as pressing as abortion is ignored and not discussed, people can default to accepting it.”

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