Pro-life message lacks empathy and perspective

ALLISON BARLOW 

The pro-choice table stands in stark  contrast to the pro-life table in the Arts Tunnel.

The pro-choice table stands in stark
contrast to the pro-life table in the Arts Tunnel.

These last few weeks, the Arts Tunnel has been home to a special interest group seemingly trying its hardest to alienate any potential supporters. Around this time of year, a group of pro-life students makes an annuall appearance and causes you to question the wisdom of juxtaposing fetus dioramas with Timbits.

It’s never done much for my appetite but fortunately for them getting more donuts into our diets is not their end goal. The pro-life movement believes that life begins at conception and thus, abortions are wrong. This is why they often set up shop around the same time the University of Saskatchewan’s Students’ Union Women’s Centre has a display for pro-choice week.

This group promotes their views using fetus dioramas intended to bring your attention to the biological development of a fetus. Given that the group is pro-life, it’s fairly obvious that they want you to look at the stages of fetal development and be struck by how human-like fetuses are.

This revolutionary idea might leave you stunned — if you failed biology. You’ll forgive me for not standing in awe of the fact that a typical fetus of a given species will resemble said species during development. Nevertheless, the emphasis is on the perceived humanity of the fetuses with no statistics, pamphlets, studies or information immediately available in regards to the topic.

The intended effect is rather straightforward. These pro-life supporters seem to want women who are considering abortions to experience doubt and change their minds. A side-effect of their methods — intentional or unintentional — is the message to women who have had abortions that they should feel guilty for their actions.

The message here is simple: abortions are bad. Full stop. No exceptions.

What you think about abortions is your opinion. I’m more interested in the implied part of that statement at the moment — the part that says that you should feel bad for having an abortion in the first place.

According to studies conducted by Dr. Wendy Norman of the University of British Columbia and statistics from the Sexual Assault Centre for the Hamilton area in Ontario, one in three Canadian women will have an abortion and one in four will be sexually assaulted in their life times.

Simply put, you likely know a woman who has had an abortion and/or has been raped. I know someone who meets the second criteria. When my mom was in high school she went out on a date with a guy and he raped her. While she didn’t become pregnant, she did later get diagnosed with depression because of it.

My focus is on the women for whom those statistics overlap. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that around 32,000 pregnancies per year in the United States are the result of rape and approximately 50 per cent of those pregnancies are subsequently terminated.

While those are American statistics, the occurrence of rape in the U.S. and Canada do sit at fairly similar levels. Thus it can be reasonably inferred that women who have ended pregnancies that were a result of rape are not an insignificant number.

That brings me back to the fetus dioramas. The display will very likely instill guilt in more than one person. Given the above statistics, it doesn’t seem unlikely that this number will include rape victims.

The display isn’t about convincing you with facts and well-reasoned arguments; it’s meant to play to your emotions with very little subtlety.

They want to convince you that life begins at conception by showing you how human-like human fetuses are. This exhibits a black-and-white understanding of a highly complex issue and the simplicity of their methods is problematic.

Every day that table is up, there are women walking past it whose lives have been affected in horrible, indescribable ways. They have experienced excruciatingly traumatic events that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

This experience may have been exacerbated by family, friends or police officers who asked asinine questions such as what they had expected to happen if they were wearing that outfit or drinking that much.

These women, several weeks after being raped, could have been confronted with the cruel fact that they were pregnant and subsequently made the choice to have an abortion.

These are the same women who could be triggered by these displays. Let that sink in for a second.

The pro-life group, with their one-size-fits-all message, might cause rape victims to feel doubt, guilt or disgust with themselves. Choosing not to think critically about an excessively simplistic position is lazy, but everyone is entitled to an opinion. Promoting that position in a way that is potentially harmful to rape victims turns lazy into abhorrent.

No one benefits when the conversation about abortion is hijacked by those who have a fundamental lack of understanding for the issue, but choose to be vocal anyway.

Consideration must be given to why any woman chooses to have an abortion in the first place. The dialogue needs to be compassionate, rational and consist of scientific data.

You’ll note “manipulative” is not on that list.


Photo: Jordan Dumba/Photo Editor

  • Pro-Choice

    As someone who supports the pro-choice movement at spent some time behind the table providing information to that end last week, I think this article is a bit harsh. They are welcome to represent their views equally to ours – likewise, when they choose to set up somewhere, we are informed and given the choice to represent pro-choice awareness. We may not agree with each other, but I’d argue that we’ve come to a relatively comfortable arrangement.

    While I personally don’t care for the models, you state that the dialogue needs to consist of scientific data, rather than manipulation. Technically, they ARE providing scientific data (the formation of a fetus). I’ve never walked past them to have them assert it was anything else. Obviously that assumption is there based on their beliefs, but that is their perogative.

    It IS unfortunate if it is triggering for people, as you mentioned may happen. I truly hope that happens rarely, if ever. But if it does, the pro-choice booth is there too, showing our support. It’s not a perfect solution, but we can hardly inhibit their right to share their opinion while we promote ours.

    Again, I am wholeheartedly pro-choice, but to attack these people as “lacking empathy” because they promote a different opinion than yours is unfair.

    • poop

      I think this is a really important comment to hear. As someone who
      only recently made up her mind as to where she falls on the
      “prolife-prochoice” spectrum, I think it’s important to be able to speak
      with people from both sides. Ultimately, I found that the prolife
      movement can’t provide me with satisfactory answers about my primary
      concerns about banning or making abortion illegal – how do you protect
      women ‘s health when they have an illegal abortion? What punishment
      should a woman receive for having an illegal abortion? How should
      pregnancy be dealt with in the context of incest or rape?

      If I hadn’t been able to ask these questions on both sides, I wouldn’t
      know how I feel. Discourse IS important. The prolife booth has always
      been respectful of people’s space and personal boundaries in the Tunnel,
      which is more than I can say about many other student groups that
      routinely harass passersby. I may not agree with them, but I am glad
      they are able to respectfully present their views and create discourse
      on campus.

    • Guest

      I appreciate your open-mindedness (as well as that of the previous commenter). It’s an important trait that too many people on both sides lack.

      There’s good material on these concerns here, if you’re interested (it’s a great site overall too):

      http://prolifepodcast.net/2013/08/177/
      http://prolifepodcast.net/2013/12/184/

  • angry foodie

    Oh jeez, another blowhard who wants to avoid the simple scientific fact that human life begins at conception.

    It is very simple.

    The only condition necessary and sufficient to determine if something is alive is if it has cells which reproduce.
    Cell reproduction begins at conception.
    The species of the cells reproducing determines the type of life growing.
    The cells reproducing at conception are those of the species homo sapiens sapiens, better known as humans.

    For it to be a distinct life, it must have its own DNA, oh schnapp, that’s there too.

    Therefore, each and every one of us began being alive at conception.

    Is that factual and well-reasoned enough for you? Because I can tell you one thing, that little ditty above was more factual and reasonable than any of the drool you call your opinion above.

    Even pro-choice atheists such as Dr Peter Singer acknowledge that abortion is what it is, the killing of a human life. Which is why Singer advocates for legalized infanticide. Yet he is the godfather of animal rights, ironically…

    Anyone who rattles off stats about abortion and sexual assault while ignoring the significant ethical conundrum that abortion presents clearly has a voice not worth hearing in the debate.

    The American statistic you cite means that approximately 0.02% of the American female population get pregnant by rape annually. That’s around 1 in 5000 women, which is way too high and a tragedy in of itself. One in a billion is too many. No one can justify rape.

    However, you skirt the real issues. One issue is that this discussion is not about about the marginal abortions which involve saving lives and rape victims. The issue is that a vast majority of abortions are preventable by having a responsible sex life.

    Surely no one would agree that having repeated medical procedures which do cause uterine damage is a reasonable thing to do consistently when there are plenty of methods by which people can avoid pregnancy.

    Another issue is that there is no debate about whether abortion is killing a human life; it is killing a human life as a matter of basic scientific fact. Anyone who thinks it is debatable needs to brush up on their biology.

    The issue is whether the interests of the woman (which are important) trump the interests of the unborn life. Which is debatable. Because the autonomy argument fails. If the woman being autonomous and the child not being autonomous was justification to kill it, then Peter Singer is quite right and infanticide should be legal. A six month old has no autonomy. Yet they put significant pressures on the mother’s autonomy. Therefore, autonomy does not justify abortion in my view. If it does, then killing a six month old is no less morally problematic than abortion.

    Yet, there are circumstances when I am sure that suffering for all is saved by an abortion. The unborn never had to suffer through having a lousy mom who doesn’t want them and the grudging mother never has to suffer through sleepless nights with a dependent little shit. Therefore, Singer is probably right by applying a strictly utilitarian perspective to the debate. He is also right that if abortion is ethical, than infanticide is also ethical. At least he is honest and does not vaguely appeal to science while demonstrating no understanding of the science whatsoever, as the article above did.

    The science is not up for debate. Nor is the legal aspect of it, in my view. I would hope that those who want to criminalize abortion are a small minority. Simply put, the evils of criminal abortion cannot be justified.

    However, the ethics of the issue are wide open for debate, and an interesting debate it is. It is not without irony to me that the religious happen to have science strongly on their side for it while the secular appeal to emotion in order to put forward their arguments.

    In closing, for such a shallow article which lacks anything resembling critical thought or empathy, your title is deliciously and sadly ironic.

    • Jes

      Yeah, the scientific definition of life is pretty clear-cut, but I don’t think it’s useful in this discussion.

    • angry foodie

      The abortion debate has never been about a simple choice. It means different things for different people. To some, it is about a woman’s right to make a basic medical decision (which I consider a gross simplification, like abortion is the same as taking Advil). To others, it is about criminalizing abortion (which I know would do more harm than good)

      To me, it is about whether it is ethical for a woman to kill a life inside of her for her own convenience.

      I don’t touch on the marginal cases because the ethics of it are more difficult. Most abortions do not save the mother’s life and do not arise from rapes. Most of them are done for the convenience of the pregnant woman and the potential father. I personally believe these abortions are unethical, because like I argued, if you believe these abortions are ethical, then you must believe that infancticide is also ethical. At least if you are logical…

      Since so many people in the pro-choice community reject the science and pretend there is a debate about when life begins (a tactic known as “denialism” in the scientific community), it is not only useful, but integral, that this point be made clearly and unambiguously in this discussion.

      Research should also be done on ways to mitigate the hormone dump caused by abortion. The connection between hormones and breast cancer is undeniable. It is also undeniable that abortions causes a “dump” of pregnancy hormones into a woman’s system. This, at the very least, should be researched more deeply than it has been.

      The real issue the pro-choice community has is that science has not been kind to their position in the last 25 years. So they have taken up the tactics of propagandists and denialists in order to reframe the argument as one where the science of life does not matter. Considering that the whole debate from the other side is concerned with the sanctity of life, it is dishonest to claim that the scientific definition of life is not useful here.

    • PSK

      Your statement that infanticide and abortion are parallels of each other is debatable. No one should be arguing that an embryo is “alive”. Of course it is, life begins at conception (like you said, that’s the definition of “life”).

      The necessary argument is rather where HUMAN LIFE begins, not just life. An embryo, I would argue (And many intellectuals have also argued) is an example of life, but not human life. One of the major pillars of the argument for choice is that POTENTIAL for becoming human life does not EQUAL human life. Do you understand?

      Using that point of view, I believe that it can be successfully argued that ending the potential for human life is not the same as killing a human being (or infanticide, which you have brought up a lot). I.E: Abortion is not the same thing as murder.

      From there, this discussion goes from the unending shouting match of “you’re killing people!” “No I’m not!”, to acceptance of the fact that you are ending the potential for human life, but not murdering babies. Both sides should be trying to encourage education on that fact, rather than taking extreme positions that make both sides uncomfortable and unwilling to compromise.

      Once everyone can come to a consensus on that fact, we can go into the next step of discussing the morality of ending the potential for life, which I think is a long-overdue conversation. And my opinion is that moral dilemmas like that are up to the individual to decide: or PRO-CHOICE.

    • PSK

      And please, I beg you, please do not go on a rampage about how human embryos have the same DNA and basic cell types as fully developed humans. I am aware and do not need to be re-educated on an internet forum. I’m debating the fact that the said human embryo does not have the capacity for sentience, consciousness, or any of the other traits that separate humans from other animals.

    • Kailee

      What makes a person human? Is it consciousness, being aware of your surroundings, being able to think or express your needs? Is a person in a coma no longer human because they do not have or cannot do these things? Or is it simply because you have human DNA?

      I agree with you that ending a potential life is not the same as ending a life. That’s why when a girl ovulates and then has her period, which removes the unfertilized egg, it is not murder. The same is true for the billions of sperm that never make it to fertilize an egg. However, as soon as fertilization does occur there is no longer potential for life but there IS life. You even said that you believe life begins at conception. And going with what I said earlier, because the parents are human the unborn child is automatically human. You are and always will be human from the moment you started being. It is not an ambiguous concept where you can define humanity as you see fit or to make abortion seem any less of what it is, which is ending the life of a human being.

    • Jes

      Arguing over semantics is pointless.

      Surely you can’t equate terminating an embryo with ending the life of someone in a coma. The latter has an age, a name, experiences, friends, family, and they’re not completely dependent on the mother. They’re a person!

    • Kailee

      Of course they are, but WHY are they a person? Is it because they once had a life full of experiences and memories or because they will again IF they wake up? An unborn baby is guaranteed to have these things, only requiring time. Is a newborn not worthy of personhood because it hasn’t lived long enough to experience the world or create long-term memories? Everything else you listed an unborn baby can have: age (in weeks), name (I already know what I want to name my kids), and friends and family (at least a mother and a father).

      The dependency argument really gets to me. First of all, using it in this argument is ridiculous because a coma patient is completely dependent on the people, drugs, and/or machines sustaining their life. Second, I found this written online and I think it explains dependency really well:

      “Normally, those who are more dependent are afforded a GREATER degree of care and compassion than those who are more capable. Why is the opposite true of unborn human beings? The logic seems to go like this: They are helpless and dependent, therefore the one person who can care for them has no obligation to them. Is there ANY other situation in which this logic is used?
      The truth is, each mother has just as much ability to deny her responsibilities to her offspring before as after they are born. She can refuse to feed, shelter, and protect them at any point. Should that ability be called a right and protected in law? That is what legal abortion protects–the “right” not to act like a mother after becoming a mother.”

    • angry foodie

      Human life is defined by nothing more than its species. It is a homo sapien, a necessary beginning of every human life, It cannot become anything other than a human, it can live, die, or grow into a human. Some of the intellectual arguments border on absurd denialism, not science or logic. They refer to consciousness, self-awareness, and a number of things which are not entirely present in the new born or the severely disabled. This is why their arguments represent a slippery slope and must fail.

      It is killing markedly and distinct human life, every single abortion. It is illogical bordering fantasy to argue otherwise. That embryo (or fetus) are not growing into a dog or a cat or a unicorn, they are growing into a human. This specification of the word “human” is mere obfuscation to create debate where there really should not be one. Abortion, each and every one, is killing a human life.

      A good education cannot fail to get you to this conclusion. If it makes you uncomfortable, I am sorry that the truth hurts.

      It is not for you and I to decide really. Biology has done it for us. That embryo is not an unknown life of an unknown species, it is a human life of the species homo sapien sapiens. It so damned obvious.

      And no intellectual has actually rebutted the Singer position. Its logic is undeniable, and he is one of the world’s top bioethicists, no slouch.

    • Jes

      You’ve erected a straw man to beat to smithereens. No one is disputing the scientific definition of life. We are disputing the relevance of the scientific definition in the context of these debates. It wasn’t chosen with any of the legal or moral ramifications in mind, rather it evolved according to the intuitions of the scientific community. If you want proof of alternative definitions, try a dictionary.

    • angry foodie

      That’s right, no one is disputing the scientific definition of life, they are just denying its importance.

      As I have stated, ad nauseum, abortion should be legal based on public policy considerations.

      But in its general practice, it has no ethical justification. If you can’t take the empirical data and apply it to an ethical problem (as I am doing) and rather argue that the empirical data is irrelevant (as you did), you are obfuscating.

      Nothing in life is purely normative. This is not to deny the importance of the normative (normative considerations alone support my position regarding public policy), but if you are going to get into the nitty-gritty of an ethical problem, you best be willing to discuss the empirical.

      I surely am not building a straw man. Science is evidence supporting my argument, it is not my whole argument. Straw men refer to arguments themselves. You are denying the importance of some of the most important evidence in this argument. To me, that is disingenuous.

      I like to think we could all pick a period of viability where we accept that any abortion is off-limits (CMA says 24 weeks, the youngest born person survived at 20 weeks, but expensive and difficult), however, that would involve actually having the debate.

      As we have seen, the pro-choice movement has done real well at actually stifling and discouraging the debate. It is a political hot potato, people have been reframed as “anti-abortion”, etc.

      In any case, my views are so far from the radical views that it is funny you would even associate mine with the radical end of it. I have stated that I do not support criminalizing abortion, that pretty much makes me a pro-choicer, you know that right? I simply do not believe that there is an argument that rebuts the Singer position that ethical infanticide or killing of the severely disabled also follows from the acceptance of ethical abortion. Therefore, I choose to label abortion as a generally unethical act that must remain legal for public policy purposes. Virtually no pro-lifer would agree with that position either.

      So yes, it is ironic to me that the feelings of women who might not want to believe that abortion is actually killing a separate human life inside of her are so important that you would label my position as radical or a straw man in order to rebut something you do not like.

    • Guest

      You make a lot of really good points, and I find myself agreeing with a lot of them. Yet despite that I find myself irritated and off-put by you, simply because of your style of argument. You’re obviously very intelligent but maybe if you were less purposefully abrasive more people would agree with you. Just a thought, brother. It’s not such a contest to win arguments that you can at least attempt to be a tad smoother with your points.

    • PSK

      You make a lot of really good points, and I find myself agreeing with a lot of them. Yet despite that I find myself irritated and off-put by you, simply because of your style of argument. You’re obviously a good debater but maybe if you were less purposefully abrasive more people would agree with you. Just a thought, brother. It’s not such a contest to win arguments that you can at least attempt to be a tad smoother with your points.

    • PSK

      You make a lot of really good points, and I find myself agreeing with a lot of them. Yet despite that I find myself off-put by you, simply because of your style. You’re obviously a good debater but maybe if you were less purposefully abrasive more people would agree with you. Just a thought, brother. It’s not such a contest to win arguments that you can at least attempt to be a tad smoother with your points.

    • cellophane rapper

      I think you are looking at it from a deontological point of view whereas I am looking at it from a teleological point of view. I’m a guy btw. I think because it is more practical to allow abortions, by the same token it is ethical. It’s not the most desirable way to prevent an unwanted child from being born, but it is necessary because of the trouble it saves the mother.

      I don’t think it’s ethical to terminate the life of a severely handicapped person because I (and I believe others) can relate to them. An unborn fetus is very similar to the fetus of other animals. I know it is a human fetus, but its humanity has not been made manifest, so to speak.

      I think the trouble is drawing a line somewhere and being able to defend it. Although the point of conception is convenient and has scientific arguments on its side, it becomes irrelevance if someone believes that ending a “human life” is sometimes ethical, as I do.

      Perhaps, the original sexual act that caused the baby to be conceived was unethical, but given that that has already occurred and the mother cannot go back and change it, I don’t think the resulting abortion is unethical if it saves the mother while ending the life of the unaware fetus.

    • JMG

      News flash: biological ‘life’ is not morally equatable to a human’s life. I have trillions of cells, all of them most certainly alive, none of them is human life. Cancer cells mutate and develop distcint new DNA all the time, it doesn’t mean shit. You’re confusing the complex ethical ramifications at the core of this debate with some black-and-white kiddie definition you read in a textbook.

    • angry foodie

      Actually, I am not confused at all. I am bringing light to the fact that there is nothing complex about the ethics here. Abortion is the killing of an innocent human’s life. That’s it, that’s all. If pro-choice people cannot accept that as a factual premise within their argument, then they have no argument worth considering. They would rather avoid the “complex ethical ramifications” of their position than accept the facts.

      You are individualizing cells (a moronic and disingenuous tactic) rather than accepting the plain fact that the sum of the cells which begin developing at conception is and always will be a human life.

      Your cancer example is laughable.

      Cells die all the time with no effect on the human life. But when the human life dies, all those cells die.

      Abortion terminates all cell development in an organism. That organism is a homo sapien sapiens. Termination of all cell development in an organism is analogous to killing that organism.

      I am not dealing with “kiddie” stuff. You are. You are comparing apples to rocks.

      Talking down to someone on the internet might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but it really doesn’t prove anything. Your arguments are rubbish and failed to rebut anything I wrote.

    • JMG

      Your arrogance is pretty astounding as your posts show that you think that the pro-life side has both the scientific and ethical arguments entirely on its side.

      ‘Abortion is the killing of an innocent human’s life. That’s it, that’s all.’

      Okay well the fact that you are entirely unwilling to debate this shows you aren’t really interested in progressing any ethical understanding of the issue. You’re living in a black and white world. There is a high level of ambiguity when it comes to discerning whether or not something is a human being which is deserving of rights. Both society and the law seem to agree with me on this. Eggs get fertilized but fail to implant all the time, are those humans? Does implanted egg = now suddenly a human? If one twin in the womb absorbs another, is that twin a murderer? What about implantations which spontaneously abort or have developmental disorders and will never survive outside the womb?

      How can a collection of cells with no thoughts, no feelings and no autonomy which lacks the ability to feel pain (in the early stages) be entirely equatable to a fully formed human? Is throwing away a seed the same as chopping down a tree? It simply isn’t the same and you don’t even want to address the similarities/differences to find a pragmatic approach to dealing with the issue.

      Let’s forget all that and just say that an embryo has the full rights as a human. To me, you can still make an argument that it’s ethically justifiable to euthanize these ‘humans’ given the impact unwanted pregnancy has on individuals and society and that the fetus will not suffer, nor will it even know it existed. If it were up to pro-choice people, there would be zero abortions. Perhaps try to shift resources towards preventing unwanted pregnancies rather than ‘educating’ (guilting) people to your side of the argument.

      You don’t even address the rights of the woman in all this. Forcing a woman to host an unwanted parasite inside them, compromising their health and destroying their future because some self-righteous people like yourself sit in an ivory tower and claim ‘nope, should of known better.’

      You can skip any biology lesson you want to deliver because I have a degree from a professional health care college. I’m not overly interested in continuing the debate any further as you seem to have made up your mind regarding the definition of a human life and the ethics associated with that. This issue is ambiguous, that’s why it’s debated so frequently. Accept that and we can talk about realistic, pragmatic approaches to dealing with it.

    • angry foodie

      Actually, you simply have failed to understand the argument. Calling a living human life an “unwanted parasite” reflect the sociopathic psychology of some within the pro-choice movement. Jeesh, kids keep on being parasites, well into their teen years. At times, you might also think they are unwanted.

      As the women go, I have stated repeatedly that I do not support the criminalization of abortion. What part of that don’t you get? Do you understand that this statement makes me nominally pro choice?

      Regarding the seeds, they have to germinate first. Your “throwing out the seed” analogy is akin to ovulation and menstruation, not abortion. Once the seed germinates and grows into a sprout, it might not have the same ramifications if you pluck that annoying elm sprout from out of your garden, but you certainly did kill that elm tree which had sprouted from the seed.

      I don’t like to draw analogies to the plant kingdom myself when discussing mammals. But you have some degree in health care, so you know everything about biology and philosophy.

      I exposed myself plainly in my first post. I believe abortion is unethical. I believe that accepting it as ethical creates a slippery slope where we ought to accept infanticide or killing the severely disabled as ethical. This reasoning follows the syllogism of Peter Singer, one of the world’s most acclaimed atheist pro-choice bioethicists. Difference being, I choose the “all are unethical” position, whereas he argues that all are ethical.

      Perhaps that is what coaxed a reply from so many. It’s the fact that I am not a radical, that I do believe that abortion must remain legally accessible, but I also believe that it is unethical.

      Your entire rebuttal follows from the straw man that I support criminalized abortion or that I believe in giving embryos full rights of humans. I don’t. But ethically, I believe that all human lives, even embryos, deserve to be considered equally by individuals if not the law.

      Alas, you have clearly identified yourself as one of the radicals, what, with your references to “unwanted parasites” and your hysteric claims that pregnancy “compromises women’s health and destroys their lives”.

      I know how far on one side you sit. Astonishingly, you managed to read my post and hate the message enough to actually miss the part where I identified myself as being on your side, albeit much closer to the center and the truth than you are.

    • JMG

      Our debate here is not really going anywhere and I’ll let you have the last word if you care to respond.

      I simply can not understand your position no matter how hard I try to reconcile. ‘Abortion is the killing of an innocent human’s life. That’s it, that’s all. I believe that all human lives, even embryos, deserve to be considered equally by individuals if not the law.’ Okay… Is abortion then not the definition of murder within your position? You are for legal abortions yet you argue that they are unethical. Alright, things can remain legal and certainly be considered unethical, no problem there. But within the context of your own argument, would you allow legalized murder in favor of public policy?

      What I majorly have a problem with is that we disagree on the ethics, yet you seem to take the position of utmost superiority. You are superior to pro-choice people because you think it is murder and are guilting women into feeling bad about getting abortions (‘it is unethical’). You are superior to pro-life people because you think it should still be legal.

      Furthermore, I am not a radical. You can look at the issue from many different angles. If I had a fetus inside me and I wanted nothing more than it to be removed, I would consider it a parasite. And not a ‘parasite’ in the joking colloquial sense that you use it in reference to children. I mean physically and biologically reliant on a specific host for survival. That’s how some people feel about it and it is not sociopathic. If I wanted the embryo insid me I’d have a vastly differing outlook. Others hold alternative levels of sentiment towards embryos and you can’t call me a radical for the way I personally feel about it when you are being equally as polarizing. It is I who is trying to reinforce the idea that this issue is ambiguous and we should talk about it the ethical ramifications. You seem to have already made up your mind.

      You haven’t really addressed any of my points regarding the ambiguity of when a viable life begins. Is life when sperm meets egg or at implantation? If its sperm meets egg then Plan B is murder as well. A lot of things have to go right in a woman’s body and within the embryo for it to even have the potential to develop into a human. This spectrum is abiguous! Perhaps if it was as simple as sperm+egg=viable human life then decisions would be easy.

      You say I’ve missed your message and that we’re on the same side. We are on the same side regarding how abortions should be treated legally. However, we are not on the same side ethically as I don’t consider abortion murder, and you seem to. Feel free to clarify.

  • Pro Life

    I believe that you are the one who shows a “fundamental lack of understanding”, not to mention your spelling, and grammar could use some work. This piece is harsh and insensitive, and I am surprised it was publicly shared. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion on a subject, but you do not have the right to put down the opinions of others. Obviously this article is very biased seeing you had a personal story related to rape. However, have you ever asked your mother what she would have done if pregnancy would have came along with the rape? What if you were the “fetus” that was placed inside a rape victim. You should be thankful that you were granted life, and should want to share the gift of life for all of the unborn children in the world. Just because I view each “fetus” as a gift from God, does not mean I have to force my beliefs on you. If the Pro- Life table saves one child’s life, I would consider it to be hugely successful. I have no judgement towards those who choose Pro- Choice. It is your life, do what you choose. The purpose of the Pro- Life table is not to bring guilt upon any women who have chosen abortion either, it is merely to raise awareness. Before you make assumptions about people’s objectives, maybe read a pamphlet or two, so you yourself may gain some knowledge on a subject that you clearly know nothing about.

    • prochoice4life

      I respectfully disagree with you when you say “the purpose of the Pro-Life table is not the bring guilt upon any women who have chosen abortion.” I’ve read some of the pro-life pamphlets from the table and they’re full of misinformation and misrepresentations of the realities of abortions. Not only do they discuss the “danger” of abortions on women’s health, there is also some rhetoric about ‘women who regret their abortions.’ To me, these messages are a clear example of guilting, and even scaring, women out of the decision to have an abortion. Furthermore, when pro-lifers shout “baby killers!” and “murders!” to a group of pro-choicers from across the street while peacefully demonstrating outside of City Hospital, to me that is guilting and shaming us for our beliefs. And when a student comes up to the pro-choice table to debate our stance on abortion, she states “I’m trying to figure out a way not to hate you people” – again, to me, that is guilting us for our beliefs.

      You say that you have no judgement towards those who choose pro-choice (and therefore believe in the right to abortions) and it’s our lives, so do what we choose. Well I think you’re fighting for the wrong side, because pro-choice essentially means the fundamental belief women can choose for themselves – whether that be keeping the baby, giving the baby up for adoption, or aborting the fetus. From my experience, pro-life is about telling women that having abortions is wrong by guilting, shaming, and scaring them with misinformation and horrible, idiotic lies.

    • Pro Life

      I am far from Pro-Choice, it is not my responsibility, nor my right to tell others what to believe. I believe that abortion is wrong, but I do agree that a woman has a right to keep the child, or give it up for adoption as an alternative. You are putting all Pro-Lifers into a set stereotype, just because I say I do not judge a woman for choosing, does not mean I am like you. I would never go through with an abortion, nor promote it. Your stereotype also falls over reading the pamphlets. Just because they are set on the table, does not mean that the people at the table wrote them. Unfortunately there are medical dangers involved with abortions, google it, it’s a scientific fact. It’s just showing that we care about the women as well. When it talks about women regretting their decision to have an abortion, it is showing the women what may happen after going through with the procedure. It is indeed INFORMING as I said before. Abortion clinics don’t tell you the mentality that comes with an abortion. As for those who were shouted at, I’m sorry you felt judged, but don’t act like you don’t point the finger right back at us. Your remarks of “Bible Thumpers” is no different. We believe what we believe, and that is that. Just don’t assume that our set mission is to give everybody a guilt trip, and to shove our opinions down your throat.

    • Jesus4Choice

      Your arguement is full of self righteous bullshite.

      If the pamphlets are at the table you are endorsing them. It
      Doesn’t matter who wrote them.

      Saying you agree on a women’s right to keep te child or adopt it is a farce. Your appeal to common ground is empty.

      And defending the shouting of women as baby killers is shameful. Being called a bible thumper is not even close to comparable. Maybe if you quit beig such an asshat and quit protesting people would quit calling you a bible thumper.

      In conclusion, your arguement sucks, and so do you.

    • Kailee

      That was a little mean. I think people need to realize that not all pro lifers are like the radicals that shout “baby killers” and that they don’t represent the rest of us. This goes both ways as well; I know that not all pro choicers are like the ones that threw rocks at and spit at us at the City Hospital. I found the pro choicers in the tunnel quite polite and pleasant to talk to, actually. That being said, our fetal displays are simply meant to bring awareness to an unborn child’s development, not to make women feel guilty if they have had an abortion. If they have any guilt, it was there before they walked past our table. We want people to know that we care about women; it may be easy to think that we are anti-women but we aren’t. We are pro ALL life. We have pamphlets for women who regret their abortion, because this is something that happens and we want them to know that we are there for them and they can get help.

      Using the fact that pregnancy can occur due to rape as justification for having a right to have an abortion at will, for any reason, is unacceptable. How many of the pro choicers have actually stopped and asked a woman in that situation what she thought? There are countless women who have had a child conceived in rape whose stories may surprise you. Check out this link if you are interested: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/raped-women-who-had-their-babies-defy-pro-choice-stereotypes

      In the end, it comes down to the humanity of the unborn child. If they are human beings that have a right to live then it is absolutely unacceptable to take their life to better suit the wants of others. A person can’t just go up to someone they don’t like and kill them so their life would be a little bit better. Why do some people then think it’s acceptable to kill their own children if it would make their life a bit easier?

    • Jesus4Choice

      In the end it comes down to your view that someone else’s body is your business. It’s not.

    • Kailee

      It’s my business to stand up for the innocent and since an unborn child has it’s own body, then it’s not the mother’s place to choose life or death for another person. It doesn’t matter if it is growing inside her; it is not a part of her body and she does not have a right to choose to end someone else’s life.

    • derp

      actually it may not even have a body. its fucking plasma at first you twit. and it is still a part of the woman’s body.

    • Kailee

      Plasma? As in the liquid component of blood? No, an embyro has it’s own body with it’s own distinct DNA from it’s mother; therefore, it is not a part of her body. It’s blood never mixes with her’s throughout the entire pregnancy. It is its own person.

    • derp

      tubes feed it from what the mother eats. its her body. and yes, plasma, mucky muck-muck…whatever it is before it has a body.

    • Kailee

      The bacteria that live in our gut that help us digest food have their own DNA so they are not a part of our bodies. They are separate organisms living inside us, but they are not US. The same thing is true for the unborn. Their cells are not the mother’s cells. They contain 50% of her DNA and 50% of it’s father’s. Maybe you should brush up on your basic biology. Watch a YouTube video on fetal development and tell me when you think a child has a body.

    • angry foodie

      If there is one thing I have taken from reading these message boards, it is that pro-life people are more attuned to science, more logical, and much better at basic argumentation than pro-choice people.

      Your comments have been fun, but reading derp’s comments make me wonder what the point is at all?

      Person wouldn’t know the difference between a placenta and an amniotic sac, so what is the point of discussing prenatal development with someone like that?

    • Kailee

      Maybe they just need someone to try to explain it to them. Obviously they’ve never tried to learn about prenatal development, but maybe if they did they could see how amazing it is and that an unborn child is a separate being. If more people could see this then there would be less people who believe it is acceptable to choose to abort an unborn baby.

    • angry foodie

      Problem is, second you tell them ‘I’m pro-life’, they shut down and stop listening. I mean, if they don’t know enough about birth to understand that the placenta and amniotic sac are both completely unique to birth and operate solely to keep that which is the mother’s separate from that which is the baby’s, they aren’t going to believe you when you tell them this.

      To me, it is pretty clear that the pro-life movement owns the philosophical and ethical debate. Any argument that starts from the premise that abortion is ethical necessarily hits the slippery slope where infanticide and killing severely disabled people is also ethical.

      The only thing that saves the pro-choice side is public policy. Namely do we want to restrict access to timely abortions? Because even pre-Morgentaler, it was pretty easy to get an abortion in Canada. Appear before a medical board, say that you are too _________ to have a baby, and generally, you would get your abortion approved.

      It seems that the pro-life movement is doing what it can to promote a more humane view of the unborn. Because the issue is going to turn on the ground, where people get all the available information and reach their conclusions based on that information.

      Our lawmakers are not going to go against the status quo. Nor are our educators. What your people do in the tunnel is important insofar as education goes and you do it in a tasteful and non-forceful way which ought to be lauded. The criticisms espoused in this article come from someone who clearly does not even understand the debate and therefore found it easier to attack the messenger rather than do the much more difficult job of understanding the message.

    • PSK

      Angry Foodie, you give generalized statements that seem to make their own conclusions rather than invite friendly debate. You also seem to be vexed or angry at people who find opinions other than yours to be more appealing. Statements like ” it is pretty clear that the pro-life movement owns the philosophical and ethical debate.”, do nothing but provoke combative words flying between people, instead of discussing the said philosophical and ethical debates. Sure, people on either side like to pick fights, but picking fights does nothing to further the discussion.

      Moral of the story: Mud-slinging is not the way to approach an argument, and it’s ironic that you end your essay with “The criticisms espoused in this article come from someone who clearly does not even understand the debate and therefore found it easier to attack the messenger rather than do the much more difficult job of understanding the message”. Because your entire point was doing nothing but attacking the messengers on the other side of the argument.

    • angry foodie

      To call my position combative in comparison to the article they are attached to is rather rich

      For someone who actually failed to address the fact that Kailee and I have addressed it ad nauseum (as in the discussion of the placenta and amniotic sac), it is extra rich.

      Like I have pointed out, the autonomy argument fails. The existence of separate life argument fails. The only argument that succeeds is public policy, which I accept.

      See, I have addressed the arguments. You have simply accused me of mudslinging whilst lacking the intellectual capacity to actually address my premises.

      You have failed to address the fact that there is a life, that it is human, and it is not the mother. Abortion kills that life. These are statements of fact, not necessary for anyone to debate. There is no actual debate about these statements amongst intelligent people. Denying these facts is like denying climate change is happening or that smoking is bad. It is denialism, and debating with denialists is rather off-putting to me.

    • angry foodie

      You sir, for lack of a better term, sound like an idiot.

    • Miranda

      This is an ad hominem. The real question is “why PSK sounds like an idiot.” When you can put that into words you have a real argument. At the moment you are simply trying to undermine PSK by tarnishing his character. Rather poorly too! Good luck angry foodie, I believe that you can achieve more than name calling.

    • Kailee

      They actually called derp an idiot not PSK.. It was because derp clearly didn’t know anything about fetal development in an earlier conversation.

    • angry foodie

      Kailee is correct. I was referring to derp, as it clearly states in the little arrow beside my name. It also pre-dated PSK’s rather trite and ironic response by 3 days, which someone who actually paid attention to details might have picked up on.

      If you read the post which this refers to, you will see some nonsensical blather that really did not merit much more than a brief ad hominem reply. There is no debate that can be had with fools who choose a side without the integrity to actually research their position.

  • Guest

    These last few weeks, the Arts Tunnel has been home to a special interest group seemingly trying its hardest to alienate any potential supporters. Around this time of year, a group of pro-life students makes an annuall [sic] appearance and causes you to question the wisdom of juxtaposing fetus dioramas with Timbits.

    Well, I don’t personally eat Timbits. But if I did, I don’t think the USSU Women’s Centre’s free condoms would do much for my appetite either. Just saying…

    This revolutionary idea might leave you stunned — if you failed biology. You’ll forgive me for not standing in awe of the fact that a typical fetus of a given species will resemble said species during development.

    Given the number of people that seem to think the fetus is only a blob of tissue, or not alive, or not human, it’s more of a revolutionary idea than you give credit for.

    Nevertheless, the emphasis is on the perceived humanity of the fetuses with no statistics, pamphlets, studies or information immediately available in regards to the topic.

    Having seen the display myself, I’m pretty sure there are plenty of pamphlets available for the taking. This includes information on the legal situation (that there are no laws in place regarding abortion in Canada, so it’s effectively legal throughout all nine months of pregnancy), information for pregnant women who need help, and information for women that regret their abortions and want to seek healing.

    The intended effect is rather straightforward. These pro-life supporters seem to want women who are considering abortions to experience doubt and change their minds.

    That’s not the only intended effect. They also want people who support legalized abortion (or are on the fence) to rethink their position or at least understand the issue better, as well as recruit pro-life individuals to get more involved in the cause.

    A side-effect of their methods — intentional or unintentional — is the message to women who have had abortions that they should feel guilty for their actions.

    That may be so, but they also offer information and help to women that do feel guilty for their actions and want to find support. Furthermore, this is no reason to be against pro-life tactics. MADD’s campaigns might upset people that lost loved ones to drunk drivers, or individuals that drove drunk and killed or maimed someone, but their campaigns are never criticized. Why? Because everyone understands that impaired driving is a serious social evil, and we ought to do whatever we can to eradicate it. Similarly, if the pro-life case is sound, we ought to do all we can to end abortion – even if pro-life tactics inevitably upset some people. To paraphrase the pro-choice feminist Naomi Wolf, claiming that an accurate pro-life display is offensive is making a judgment that women are too inherently weak to be confronted with the truth about a grave decision they have to make. This view is unworthy of feminism.

    The message here is simple: abortions are bad. Full stop. No exceptions.

    That’s somewhat oversimplified (as most pro-life groups and individuals have a more nuanced position on abortion to save the mother’s life). But just because it’s a simple message doesn’t mean it’s wrong. “Taking cyanide is bad. Full stop. No exceptions” is also a simple message, but no sane person would ever call it into question.

    What you think about abortions is your opinion.

    With due respect what you seem to be saying is that, unless we agree with you, we can believe whatever we want as long as we don’t act as though those beliefs are actually true.

    According to studies conducted by Dr. Wendy Norman of the University of British Columbia and statistics from the Sexual Assault Centre for the Hamilton area in Ontario, one in three Canadian women will have an abortion and one in four will be sexually assaulted in their life times.

    Staggering numbers. All the more reason to talk about these issues in an intellectually honest and compassionate way.

    Simply put, you likely know a woman who has had an abortion and/or has been raped. I know someone who meets the second criteria. When my mom was in high school she went out on a date with a guy and he raped her. While she didn’t become pregnant, she did later get diagnosed with depression because of it.

    I’m very sorry to hear that. I hope she is doing better now, and that the rapist was convicted and punished. All too often, that is unfortunately not the case.

    My focus is on the women for whom those statistics overlap. The American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology reports that around 32,000 pregnancies per year in the United States are the result of rape and approximately 50 per cent of those pregnancies are subsequently terminated.
    While those are American statistics, the occurrence of rape in the U.S. and Canada do sit at fairly similar levels. Thus it can be reasonably inferred that women who have ended pregnancies that were a result of rape are not an insignificant number.

    That’s definitely not an insignificant number, but it is a tiny minority of all abortions (about 1%, if we go by the American statistics). So 99% of all abortions have nothing to do with rape whatsoever. That being said, I would agree that many people don’t take rape as seriously as they ought to. You brought up the example of friends and family questioning how much the victim had to drink or how short her dress was. I would add that, unfortunately, many pro-life advocates also seem to brush aside victims of sexual assault. We see this when they claim that pregnancy resulting from rape is a good thing (or a “gift from God”), or even that it never happens at all.

    If a woman is raped and becomes pregnant, we need to punish the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law. Not only has he attacked her in one of the vilest ways possible, he has also forced her to become a mother. This means nine difficult months of pregnancy, followed by painful delivery of a baby that was forcibly conceived against her will. After that, she must either parent the child for 18 years (which is expensive, demanding, and often psychologically harmful in such circumstances) or place for adoption (which can be extremely difficult emotionally). The only other option is abortion. Nobody should be forced to make that kind of decision, and the damage done to the victim is serious and irreversible. No matter how severely the rapist is punished, I think he gets off too easy.

    We also need to give the victim the care and support she needs and deserves, and to help her do the right thing. It’s certainly understandable that pregnancy would be the last thing in the world she would want, and that she would have an abortion. But the question of whether it’s right or just to offer her one is quite a different matter. The case pro-life advocates try to make is that abortion should be illegal because it’s a violent act against a human being. This follows from the premises that the unborn are human beings, all human beings have the right to life, and that the right to life entails the right to sustenance from the mother (through pregnancy and gestation). If these premises are all true, it’s not at all obvious that anything would change in the case of rape. We would not let a rape victim take the life of her born child (even if he began to look like the rapist, and served as a constant reminder of the horrible attack). That’s precisely because the born child is a human being with the right to life – regardless of how the conception occurred. As the pro-choice philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson wrote, “surely the question of whether you have a right to life at all, or how much of it you have, shouldn’t turn on the question of whether or not you are a product of rape.” To successfully defend abortion in the case of rape, you would need to prove that the unborn are not human, or don’t have the right to life. And that’s precisely where the disagreement lies – not on rape. I know this conclusion is difficult for many to accept, but that does not make the assessment unsound. The lesson is not that we should lack compassion for the victim of a horrible crime, but that it’s wrong to carry out a second act of violence in order to ease her suffering (even though we want to do whatever we can to ease her suffering).

    That brings me back to the fetus dioramas. The display will very likely instill guilt in more than one person. Given the above statistics, it doesn’t seem unlikely that this number will include rape victims.
    The display isn’t about convincing you with facts and well-reasoned arguments; it’s meant to play to your emotions with very little subtlety.

    I hate to sound snarky, but I find that statement pretty ironic. You use rape victims (which have 1% of the abortions) to make your point (that pro-lifers ought to be silenced), and you even include comments like “let that sink in for a second” in your article. Yet you accuse them of emotional manipulation for providing free information about fetal development?

    They want to convince you that life begins at conception by showing you how human-like human fetuses are. This exhibits a black-and-white understanding of a highly complex issue and the simplicity of their methods is problematic.

    What part of it is highly complex, and what have pro-lifers left out that would make their display problematic? You repeatedly state this, but you don’t actually negate any of the claims they have put forward about life beginning at conception.

    No one benefits when the conversation about abortion is hijacked by those who have a fundamental lack of understanding for the issue, but choose to be vocal anyway.
    Consideration must be given to why any woman chooses to have an abortion in the first place. The dialogue needs to be compassionate, rational and consist of scientific data.
    You’ll note “manipulative” is not on that list.

    Couldn’t have said it better myself. That should go for people on all sides of the issues though.

    • angry foodie

      Excellent rebuttal!

  • Dave King

    if you have a fetus inside of you, and you decide to abort it, thats fine.
    if you have a fetus inside of you, and you decide to keep it, thats fine.
    if you don’t have a fetus inside of you, shut the fuck up.
    its really quite simple folks.

    • PSK

      Preach it, brother!

  • lol

    hey sup im a fetus what yall doin up in dis bitch

  • non-polarized

    To preface this, I believe in legal and safe accessibility to abortion services for the simple reason that prohibition is dangerous, and harm reduction saves lives. I also have zero qualms with women choosing to end pregnancies resulting from sexual assault, or where there is a significantly elevated medical risk to the mother in following through with the pregnancy. I take serious issue with gender-selective abortions (they’re happening in Canada too). I find them unequivocally deplorable. As for elective abortions of pregnancies the result of consensual adult sex, I feel we can do so much better.

    In our society vulnerable individuals (e.g. infants, children, the elderly, and the mentally ill) are protected by the medical, social, and legal policies and professionals we have in place. Sure, an embryo or a fetus isn’t a fully developed human being, so why would we extend the same courtesies to it, the most vulnerable stage of human life? It’s not viable on it’s own yet and might not have survived anyway, right? Well, consider this. Early miscarriage (after a positive pregnancy test, thus not including the 3/4 of fertilized eggs naturally aborted before pregnancy is detected) happens 1 in 5 with later miscarriages happening 1 in 100. With those stats, an abortion performed on a currently thriving embryo or fetus has a high probability of achieving the goal of ending a human life process with it’s own unique genetic code that was otherwise to have survived. Applied to other humans, such action is called murder.

    But I know, it’s the mother’s body, and as long as the fetus is dependent on her body to live she get’s the right to be the sole decision maker as to whether or not it survives, right? Just like if a mom decides 2 weeks post-partum that a baby is just too much, she’s responsible for his/her care, so she can decide to end it’s life too, right? Wait a minute, that’s not how it works. Our power structures would quickly step in to prevent or at the least prosecute such an act. I don’t disregard the tremendous emotional, psychological, and social upheaval many women experience when faced with an unplanned pregnancy (or planned for that matter) and grappling with the decision to have an abortion. I don’t aim to make anyone feel guilty about having had an abortion either. What I do aim to do is ask the question’s: what about the fetus? what about that human, their life, and their CHOICE?

    I may disagree with elective abortion but I don’t believe women unable to provide adequate care for their impending houseguest should be forced to. Society should be able to provide a pregnant woman with everything she needs(nutrition, shelter, healthcare, emotional support, stress reducing recreation) to be as healthy as possible during the pregnancy and carry the baby to term if she can’t provide so for herself. Then, she be given the CHOICE as to whether she raises it, or someone else does (adoption exists). We don’t even kill our meanest criminals in Canada, so having a better family-child services sector and more streamlined and promoted adoption processes seems like little to ask for the right to human life. That should be the choice universally offered to women, not the choice deciding whether or not the baby lives or dies. Also with consensual sex the CHOICE is theirs once again.
    But we do live in the real world, and I don’t think we should criminalize or shame women for obtaining abortions, but I think some key issues should be addressed. Namely, a father-to-be, ecstatic about the idea of being a loving and devoted dad who is also willing to raise the child completely on his own, has basically no recognized right to have any say in a woman’s from the existence of that child. An abortion can be emotionally difficult for a woman who doesn’t want the baby, so what about the man who does? Also, currently in Canada we have no firm and binding legal or medical regulations as to how far along in pregnancy is too late to ethically terminate. Current medicine allows infants born well before term in the early third and even late second trimester a fighting chance of survival. Maybe opening that conversation would be a good place to start, because theoretically an abortion could be performed the week before the due date and be legal. Granted finding a physician willing to do this would be virtually impossible.
    My views will probably offend some people, but they are rooted in compassion for the unborn fetuses. I find it sad that society will so readily and without much question end new human life, and I wonder what positive change we could foster if we opened ourselves to a dialogue of more universal mother-baby support in an attempt to provide a much more palatable alternative to abortion, while still being sure to avoid the harm that befell many women during the time where abortions were illegal. In summary: I find abortion distasteful for non-religious ethical reasons. We can do better. However, legal and safe access is still a necessary option to protect women.
    Also, for those wondering, I’m male. I will never experience the intense and presumably awesome life experience that is growing a new person inside of me, true. I am human though, procreation takes 2, and I have just as much a right to comment on reproductive issues as a woman does.

  • catjon4

    “Whatsoever you do to the least of my children THAT you do unto me.”

    • Guest

      You don’t say?