Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Students don't have "right not to be disturbed"

[Today's post comes to us from The Charlatan, the student newspaper of Carleton University in Ottowa, Canada.  Carleton Lifeline president Taylor Hyatt responds to an abortion supporter on campus who was "disturbed" by photos of abortion victims.]

I would like to commend Ms. Campbell for voicing her opinion, and her honesty in doing so. I will gladly admit that Lifeline’s strategy is jarring, and sympathize with the many people who are uncomfortable with our pictures. They are not easy to show, discuss, or see while one is going about their day.

However, I must ask whether using graphic imagery is in itself the same as forcing the student population to look at such imagery.

Ms. Campbell is correct when she says that people should be free to disregard our message, and that one’s own rights being exercised should not negatively impact the rights of others. In essence, my rights end where your rights begin. Yet nowhere in Canadian law is there a right not to be disturbed or offended. Anyone who is unsettled by a display on campus is always free to look away — no matter how compelling the content. Section 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that we have the “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”

We need to ask ourselves why Lifeline’s pictures are upsetting. They depict the decapitation, dismemberment, and disemboweling of some of the 300 humans in-utero aborted every day, as noted in 2004 by Statistics Canada. The act — whose results the pictures show — should bother us more than the signs themselves. According to CBC News, abortion has been decriminalized (legalized) in Canada since 1969, and completely unrestricted since 1988. The current state of affairs does not automatically make this procedure a right.

I agree that women should be able to control their reproductive capacities, but that control ends when a new life enters the equation at conception. The woman’s pre-born offspring also have a right not to be killed. Abortion is a sign that society fails to take care of all people — not only unborn children or their mothers. It is horrific that pre-born children, the most vulnerable of human beings, can be killed for any reason or no reason in our country. Just as appalling is the fact that their parents may feel there is no way to continue their lives without consenting to a death. It is time for society to step up and take care of these people on a large scale, though that does not excuse us from raising awareness of the issue and its gravity.

Ms. Campbell also states that if pro-choice advocates hypothetically had to force their way into an area to get their point across, it would be a church. The pro-life view transcends spirituality (or lack of it).

Instead, abortion should be examined in light of science, human rights and the definition of a human being. In fact, Section 223 (1) of Canada’s Criminal Code states that “a child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.”
Surely most people who identify as pro-choice will agree with me and find something wrong with that statement. There are plenty of non-religious and even atheist pro-lifers, who acknowledge the pre-born child’s humanity and rights from conception.

Some of these people can easily be found on campus. Many pro-lifers — including myself — hold the view that our different faiths are not vital to this debate. Such things are not necessary to prove that pre-born children do, in fact, belong to the species homo sapiens and therefore deserve protection.

Above all, anyone entering the abortion debate needs to weigh two factors, and judge them based on how long they last. Which is worse — a temporary feeling of offense, or the deliberate (and of course, permanent) ending of a human life?


md said...

Which is worse — a temporary feeling of offense, or the deliberate (and of course, permanent) ending of a human life?"

That is assuming that the feeling is temporary and not counter-productive. I appreciate that there are people willing to do this, although I know from my personal experience that it was actually a turn-off from the cause because I found it "so disgusting".

It took me looking at these images on my own to ignite the real passion. I am just one person, and I am sure you hear testimonies to the contrary. However, understand that there are probably more people like me who never choose to look for themselves, or at least not for much later because they were approached this way.

I'm not necessarily saying to stop doing it but people must be aware that in some cases this method actually has an adverse affect on people's passion for the unborn which is not the goal.

Marysia said...

I don't doubt that showing disturbing images for a political reason falls under free speech. And such images can be powerfully persuasive. However--I wish that prolifers would do something that I wish any other activists who show disturbing images would do. Please give people a choice about whether or not to view the images in the first place. Do not simply impose and brandish them. You never know when young children will see your pictures. You never know when people who have post traumatic stress disorder--a brain damaging, lifelong disease, not some trivial imagined thing, and more common than most realize-- will see them and be retraumatized. And some of the people who are triggered by the images have been personally involved in some way in the violence depicted. Please show respect for people's boundaries and their right to decide whether they can or should view disturbing content. Please show respect for children who are not yet old enough to make that decision for themselves. Doing that says "We respect life, including yours" far more than forcing everyone to see your disturbing photos.

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

I too became actively pro-life after being confronted with the dismembered arms and legs of a ten week fetus. I also know that photos save lives every time they are used. I can point you to dozens of kids I personally know, and tell countless more testimonies of children who are alive today because their mothers saw a graphic picture and cancelled an abortion appointment.

Abortion images do change minds and save lives and therefore they are effective. While they may not change every mind, I've never known of a single woman who saw graphic images and decided to have an abortion because of them.

You're asking a world that does not know what abortion is to become passionate about the unborn, but this will never happen so long as people are in the dark about the fact that abortion is a bloody act of violence that kills a developing human. Reasoned arguments only take us so far - a picture is a stronger argument to testify to the violence.

Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Like a boil that can never be cured as long as
it is covered up but must be opened with all its pus-flowing ugliness
to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must likewise be
exposed, with all of the tension its exposing creates, to the light of
human conscience and the air of national opinion before it can be

Kristine Kruszelnicki said...

As Stephanie Gray recently pointed out: "the reality is this: the lives of pre-born children trump the feelings
of born children. If abortion were happening on a street corner, I don’t
think our first reaction would be “How dare my child be exposed to
this?!,” but rather “How dare this happen?!” Tens of thousands of
children are being slaughtered every single day. We would do well to
remember that."

156 said...

Good post.