UAlberta Pro-Life: explanation for suing university administration

This spring our club, UAlberta Pro-Life, set up a display in quad. The display, approved by the U of A in advance, featured pictures of what abortion does to a pre-born child. Needless to say, the pictures were unpleasant to look at. Naturally, the display garnered significant controversy on campus from those who support abortion.

Unfortunately, rather than engaging us in arguments, rather than attempting to show either that one or more of our premises were wrong or that our premises do not guarantee our conclusion, protestors decided to block our display to prevent others from seeing the evidence that we were putting forward. University of Alberta Protective Services (UAPS) did not stop them. As section 30.3.4(1)b of the U of A Student Code of Behavior states “no Student shall, by action, words, written material, or by any means whatsoever, obstruct University Activities or University-related Functions.” It is clear that the mob was in direct violation of university policy.

Following this, rather than investigate those who flaunted the law on campus, or in fact take any steps whatsoever to prevent a crazed mob from shutting down university-approved events in the future, the university decided to impose security costs on our group. Let that sink in for a second. The security costs fall not on the group that broke the law and shut down the debate on campus by force, but on the group which was peacefully trying express their unpopular opinion. Furthermore, based on UAPS’ track record of protecting our speech, there seems to be no guarantee that even if we paid for security that we would get any. After all, they stood aside and did nothing when the lawless mob last struck. We have now taken the U of A to court, in the hopes that a judge will require the U of A to live up to its constitutional and contractual obligations.

Some people doubtless don’t like the tactics of my group. That’s fair. The photos are gruesome and disturbing (perhaps because abortion itself is gruesome and disturbing), but these images are nonetheless factually accurate representations of what abortion does to a pre-born child. These pictures are valid pieces of evidence in the debate considering that the abortion debate centers around two questions, “Are the pre-born human?” and “What does abortion do to the pre-born?” The images perform a role very similar to that of crime scene photos in a courtroom.

So while the pictures are gory and disturbing, they are important pieces of evidence. Blocking the pictures is nothing less than preventing people on campus from accessing relevant information on an important social debate. Even if you think the pictures do not establish what we at UAlberta Pro-Life believe they establish, it is still essential to a fair debate that both sides of the debate be given the power to decide what is the best way to make their argument. In other words, even if you think we are making a mistake in debate, it is still our mistake to make.

We believe we have a right to the same freedom of expression on campus as every other group. We also believe that the university is a place of higher learning, where rival viewpoints are expected to have the freedom to peacefully make their case. Until the University of Alberta changes its behaviour towards pro-life students, it cannot claim to be such a place. That’s why we are going to court.


  1. Way to go. I support your groups right to your display because your cause is moral and right, as is your right to freedom of speech.

  2. Except the main point of the protest was “nobody should have to look at these images without consent”. It was well known among protestors that if pro-life had agreed to put a tent around it we would not be there. Protestors were letting people who wanted to view it view it. I know I stepped aside multiple times to allow people to view the displays.

    1. It is not up to you or anyone else to demand or insist that a tent be put up to house or hide or obscure their display, it is their display to display. You or any other person should not be obstructing free speech by standing and/ or protesting in front of their display. Individual people should not have to approach the group you are with and ask you or anyone else to step aside, you should not be in the way and blocking or obstructing viewing of free speech of an opposing viewpoint, in the first place.

    2. Then no one should have to look at the pro-choice protesters’ signs without consent either. Why didn’t you guys put a tent around your own protest?

  3. I can’t help but draw a few parallels to WBC…
    Both groups have extreme methods for displaying their “evidence”.
    Both groups apparently have some lawyers (in this case, soon-to-be).

    There was a lawsuit filed against the University of Calgary that they “won”, but all they won was the right to an appeal I think…

    Their group’s constitution also says “Because abortion is a human rights violation, as citizens we have a responsibility to help end this injustice through legal, respectful, and effective means.”

    I’d like to see their justification on how their display was respectful.

    Also, did the “Reputation & Controversy” section on the Student’s Union website ( appear before or after this event?

    1. A display of the violent effects/ evidence is respectful to human life in trying to defend it and gain justice in the minds of those who decide what they believe is right and wrong. It should be obvious that the murder or killing of a human being is evil and violates the basic human right to life and security of the person. For someone to try to deprive basic human rights to anyone; regardless of age, is a violation of that individuals rights and shows a basic disregard for the humanity and rights of another; that the mother and society in general owe a duty of care. It is respectful to show evidence in an attempt to gain justice for the victim of crime in a courtroom or, as in this display of factual evidence, on a campus; deserves free speech not be violated. Where is the respect for human life by those that would attempt to kill it and where is the repect for basic human rights of those that support the killing of human life and also those that try to silence and obscure the message of other people who advocate in defense of human life? It appears that those who violate the basic rights to life and free speech, got away with murder(in a sense that they advocate for murder/ killing through the violent method of abortion); which is the ultimate disrepect of depriving someone else of their basic right to life and also disrespecting through using their rights to free speech to block and/ or obstruct the viewing of another groups rights to freedom of speech. Those that advocate for the killing of the unborn and try to label disrespectful; those who advocate in defense of the most defenseless of human life are deserving of the contempt of future generations. If justice and morality in this area should prevail in the future, future generations will view the brutal mass killing of children in the millions as a great historical evil. This great evil deserves to be judged by history as a horrible preventable tragedy; caused by a moral failure in this society, by some people within it who were the perpetrators or supporters of the perpetrators. The are cerain people; that allowed and even promoting the killing of millions of other people who would have been part of what made up the next generation, had they not been killed. This mass killing of children; which would have made up part of the next generation within our society, had they lived, deserves the harshest judgement of history.

  4. To the student group leader: Your group was handing out brochures, disguised as being pro-choice to those walking by.

    Section 30.3.4(3) states:
    Dissemination of Malicious Material
    No student shall disseminate or cause to be disseminated malicious or defamatory
    material or engage in activity which creates a social or academic climate that
    hinders or prevents the full participation of another person or group in the life of the University.

    I was handed one of these brochures. While I understood and respected your right to set up your exhibit, I also reserve my right to avoid/ignore it based on my beliefs, and my desire to not have to view the images that you were putting on display. When I opened a brochure, which claimed to be providing information on “Pro-choice”, I was appalled to find that it was a trick, one designed to shock those who do not support your cause into being exposed to it anyway.

    You had a right to your exhibit. That I can’t argue. But the conduct of your members and associated parties was deplorable. I understand their frustration, from being blockaded in a mob fashion. But to purposely trick people passing by into being exposed to those images is fucking immoral, and from your actions, I lost any respect for you and/or your group’s rights and beliefs.

    I hope you eat the costs of a lawyer in court, and I hope the University brings down sanctions on your disrespectful asses. Check your privilage, and shove it up your ass.

    1. “Check your privilage”

      If you insist on using this vacuous cliche, could you at least learn to spell it correctly?

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