UAlberta Pro-life: Administration is charging $17,500 to express an opinion

Quite literally, speech on the University of Alberta campus is not free.  I know this because my club, UAlberta Pro-Life, was told that if we wanted to host a display on campus that we would have to pay the U of A $17,500. This cost is far more than any university club could pay, and also was obviously intended to be that way. The worst part of it, however, is that the costs were demanded of our club because of the potential illegal actions of others — the behaviour of students in UAlberta Pro-Life has been above reproach at every event we have participated in.

This is a dangerous precedent. It means that if one group of students decides that they do not like the arguments made by a second group of students, then the first group can silence the second group simply by threatening mass lawlessness if the second group is allowed to hold any events. In short, the U of A has calculated that it is easier to silence an unpopular opinion than it is to protect their speech rights on campus.

I know my club and our opinions on abortion are not popular. I know many people dislike the displays we put up which show what abortion does to a pre-born child. But being uncomfortable with the way someone puts forward an argument, disliking a certain intellectual position, or even hating the people who are trying to advance that position are not good reasons to silence an intellectual opponent.

In fact, I would argue, allowing that person to make his or her argument gives you an opportunity to demonstrate that the way they made their point is offensive, or that their logic is flawed. All shutting your opponent down does is show that you are afraid of discussion and that you have allowed fear to prevent everyone else from pursuing the truth by asking questions of the status quo.

You don’t have to like UAlberta Pro-Life to recognize that the security fee imposed on us was meant to prevent us from being able to present our argument. And if the “heckler’s veto” is allowed to stand in this case, who will stop it from happening in another context? What if an oil company hired thugs to break up an environmentalist protest on campus, should the environmentalists be forced to pay for the right to speak because others have threatened violence against them? Freedom of speech is for offensive speech, otherwise it wouldn’t need to be protected. Furthermore, if you want to enjoy its benefits then you have to tolerate others enjoying those same benefits as well.

These are the stakes of the drama that is playing out around UAlberta Pro-Life. If UAlberta Pro-Life is successfully silenced by the U of A, then every other group which does or says something unpopular on campus is at risk of being laden with crippling security costs to make their argument. Good bye to the environmentalists on campus. Good bye to the rights of Muslim students to practice their faith in a sometimes hostile environment. In fact, good bye to the rights of all unpopular minorities. If you are scared by this picture, then you should let university officials know that you are upset with the erosion of freedom of speech on campus. Make your voice heard.


  1. If y’all say you respect the preborn so much, why do you disrespect their bodies by using them as shock content without their consent? Surely if a born child, say a 7 year old, passed away in a tragic car accident, you would not approve of photos of their mangled body being plastered in public to argue that all vehicles should be illegal? These poor lost fetuses deserve much more respect than you give to them. I guess it should come as no surprise you don’t think these preborn fetuses deserve respect and autonomy over their remains once they’ve exited the womb, since you don’t provide that respect for the bodies of living, breathing individuals who happen to have uteruses, or care for living breathing children much at all.

  2. Freedom of speech as defined in our rights is the right to speak freely in DISSENT OF GOVERNMENT. I feel like people with pictures of bloody fetuses and judgmental attitudes are ignoring that, and just pretending that they are being persecuted. You don’t have the right to say whatever you want on the university’s property. It’s an institution that is setting a precedent of a respectful environment not full of graphic images. They run the show. They’ll let you do it at the cost of all the security they’d have to hire, so it’s not like you aren’t allowed no matter what. Stop making this about your rights, when you clearly don’t care about anyone else’s.

    1. i agree 100% plus if they get the freedom to put up their display we have the freedom of peaceful assembly to protest their display.

  3. My question for you Pro-life group is this.

    What do you do for the 1000’s of single mothers who can’t support their family to raise their children? Many times these children are starving as their families are unable to feed, clothe, and shelter these children and themselves. what is your organization going to do for each and everyone of these 1000’s of people (even millions). Lets do some number crunching on this.

    cost to raise a child. food 150-250 / month, clothing 50-75 / month (could be less), child care (Approx 750/month), entertaining the children (games, movies, events…) 50-100/ month. So the approximate total cost to raise a child per month is (i’m going with the lower numbers) 950 dollars / month (i excluded clothing). So per year that would be around 11400 dollars / year. In Canada the legal age a parent is FORCED to care for their children is 16 or 18 depending where in Canada so the cost assuming its 16 years old would be 182400 dollars.

    Now lets look at the income of these families you are subjecting this to if they are unable to get the abortions they would have. most families in these states are young women aged 16-30, often they were going to post-secondary or some other institute to further their education assuming the the costs for a Canadian in a Canadian institute 5000-8000 / year for 4 years = 20000 – 32000 dollars. Transportation to work / school (if bus 60 / month if car around 500 a month for maintenance). Food for themselves 150-200 if they don’t eat out and make very sparse meals for themselves but for an average person it would probably be 200-350. Cell phone bills which we are ripped off in Canada are 50-100 dollars easily. Finally lets include rent because not everyone is blessed with a place to live for free or cheap and i will assume the cheap rent (800-900 / month). So lets tally the for the mothers cost of living and i will go with the cheapest costs available listed above. tuition (5000/12 =417 dollars rounded to the nearest dollar per month), transportation (free due to it in tuition if not 60), food (150), cell phone (50), rent (800); so the total cost would be 1417 / month for a student, and 1060 for a non- student. now lets add the costs per month together for the child + mother which would be for a student $2420 and single mother $2010 per month or 29040 / year for the student and 20100 / year for the non-student. The average income of a single parent in 2012 was $25,493/ year.

    Now UAlberta Pro-Life i will support your cause if and i say this IF you do something to support the 225,410 single parent families in Alberta (sometimes fathers want to keep the child after birth and as i support equality i include them here). Is your organization willing to give each of these families 1000 dollars a month to support them (225,410,000 dollars a month)? If so i will support your organization.

    references / how i got my numbers.
    costs of living i estimated based on people i have talked to and personal experiences.

    number of families

    Average income of single mother families

    1. Our group has collected baby clothes etc. for women in crisis pregnancies. In fact, the overwelming majority of resources in the pro-life movement are directed towards getting pregnant women in difficult circumstances the support they deserve. I personally sit on the board of a crisis pregnancy organization.

      However, even if we didn’t do all of these things, how would that in any way make our argument wrong? Our argument is: killing an innocent human being is wrong, the pre-born are innocent human beings, abortion kills the pre-born, therefore abortion is wrong

      1. yes but what about after pregnancy / birth for the next 18 years where it is much more difficult for living expenses. And one could argue having a bad life while growing up is in some ways worse than death. so helping for 3-6 months means nothing compared to the next 17.5 years.

      2. Okay, what about instances of rape? Incest? Miscarriage? When the life of the mother is threatened? When the fetus has a genetic polyploidy that will kill the fetus in the womb or they live a short life as a baby? Is it unethical to terminate a pregnancy if the nervous system isn’t even fully developed (ie first trimester)?

        1. He’ll only answer questions he wants to answer and steer the conversation another way. This group clearly cannot think about facts outside of their white upper-middle class privileged bubble.

          1. like i said i would support their cause if they help the child from birth to adulthood but after 6 months they stop caring and move on to new single soon to be mothers.

  4. Security fees are required for any event a student group holds in an area like the quad. Want to pay less? Hold your demonstrations in an indoor enclosed environnement. It’s that simple

  5. What problem I have with your group is that it clearly uses typical sales tactics to steer the conversation another way. It is always ignored that these images are SCIENTIFICALLY incorrect and how most of your members are religious.

    When someone brings up the issues surrounding what actually happens when abortions are inaccessible, it’s simply redirected to ” We provide charity to women that want to have babies.” These answers make the issues black and white when it isn’t a black and white answer. There are many many reasons to why someone can’t have a child. Why not examine society’s attitudes towards single parents or even laws that make it hard for women to be mothers?

    Why do we have to exploit images of fetuses anyway? If their lives are equal to a grown human being then isn’t showing these images without consent kind of morally wrong?

    What happens when a 12 year old, a girl who hasn’t even had her first period yet becomes pregnant because she’s a victim of sexual assault? Are you saying she is morally obligated to give birth even though it could result in two lives lost?

    I know this is very ranty but I just feel like you’re really looking at this in a black and white way.

        1. If you want to get ridiculously technical then yes, the chances of a female who hasn’t had a period yet but is just about to for the first time ever, yes it could happen, but please be realistic. Female+never had a period+rape+being at her fertile time would typically not result in a pregnancy, now “we’re” grasping at straws with logic.

          1. There are more cases out there like this than you would know. I am not grasping at straws. I am referring to real life situations. Sex assault has no limits in age or gender.

  6. Turpin effectively silenced a similar group at his previous university as well. Expect trouble even booking space and holding any event whatsoever.

    Or sanitize your opinion.

    Way to go U of A.

  7. I have no problem with your position. However, you guys are adults. Use your words. Leave the graphic and sensational imagery at home. What kind of weirdo owns huge pictures of dead babies anyway.

    1. I agree…i had NO choice one time when i was going to school a few years back seeing 10 foot aborted fetus signs and it was HORRIBLE!!! Whatever my stance on abortion is, is irrelevant, I did NOT need to see these pictures and I ended up having to leave class due to the mental images i had stuck in my head, it was one of the worst things i’ve ever seen. I had no previous warning about it, wasn’t prepared and wasn’t able to make my own decision to look or not as they were on both sides of the streets. The problem with it is that these pictures are not the norm as to what and how abortions are done in this city/country, these were almost full term and nothing but a scare tactic. If they’re going to present it properly, show an 8-10 week old fetus, not full term…those pics they depict as late term abortions are usually miscarried or stillborn babies and if one wants to see that, they can look it up online themselves to investigate…sorry if i’m going off topic a bit, i just won’t ever forget that day, it changed nothing in my mind as to how i feel about abortion.

  8. The same can be said about the videos of dogs being tortured that we see on Facebook or YouTube.They are social media sites that allow free speech, and still Facebook and YouTube t still give us content warnings. Not out of wanting to silence them but out of respect for their website (in this case the pro life student group) and of their viewers.

    1. Last year when i was at the Ualberta campus i did not want to see those pictures at all. My classes at the time were on opposite ends of the campus and i had 10 minutes to make it from 3rd floor of one building on the south side of campus to the back of the sciences building. As such i more or less had to take the quickest way there and was forced to see those pictures.

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