Outrage against UAlberta Pro-Life post an exercise in freedom of speech

Like many first years at the University of Alberta, I was overwhelmed when I learned how many student groups were available on campus.

There are a few groups I tend to avoid at clubs fairs, one of them being UAlberta Pro-Life. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it just so happens that I vehemently disagree with most of theirs. Though after Student Group Services (SGS) made a Facebook post spotlighting the pro-lifers, it became clear that many other students disagree as well.

The post’s many comments mostly express anger, disbelief, and disgust. While most of the outrage is directed towards UAlberta Pro-Life, some is also directed towards the post’s caption, which reads “UAlberta Pro-Life works to open the doors for respectful discourse on the topic of abortion. They believe that regardless of what individuals believe, we are all responsible for exploring differing opinions and striving to understand one another.”

As people were pointing out, however, UAlberta Pro-Life has been anything but tactful in the past few years. One commenter recalled a time the group set up graphic anti-abortion banners during a Pride Week celebration, a telling anecdote from the group’s controversial methods of advertising in March 2015. Not exactly what you would call respectful discourse, or an effective way of persuading others to join your cause.

Other commenters’ ire is directed towards SGS for highlighting a group that fights against bodily autonomy. The pro-life movement believes in the absolute sanctity of life, and that an unborn fetus is alive and thus deserves this protection. Under this rationale, abortion is regarded as a kind of murder, and birth is necessary no matter the circumstances. Therefore, priority lies on the unborn fetus over the person carrying said fetus.

As such, it justifies leaving the parent of the fetus largely crippled under the stress of having to provide and care for a newborn, possibly by themselves. What the pro-life movement fails to recognize is that some abortions are medical necessities, as in some cases the parent could die in childbirth. As well, by making abortions illegal, they’re not making the procedure inaccessible; they’re only making safe procedures inaccessible. Those desperate enough will find a way, even if it’s illegal and dangerous.

It’s unethical to deny anyone a choice about their own body, and to force someone to give up on their dreams, goals, and aspirations in exchange for a child they may not be able to adequately care for. Unless the pro-life movement is willing to sponsor the parent and child and pay for every diaper, every jar of baby food, every toy, and every necessity of early childhood, like daycare, they should let people do what they want and mind their own business.

Since the post went up, the page added an edit in the caption reading “The Social Media Spotlight features registered student groups on campus by request. The views of individual student groups do not necessarily reflect the views of the SGS.” This was most likely a way of diverting the backlash they received. While I’m disappointed in what UAlberta Pro-Life stands for, I’m not upset that SGS spotlighted them in the first place.

I can already see some crying “free speech!” at their digital device as they read this. Sure, this group can preach against a person’s right to choose instead of offering alterior solutions, such as more funding for organizations like Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights which provide sex education and affordable contraceptive measures. It’s their freedom of speech. But the commenters on the original post are exercising their own freedom of speech, and it just so happens that their responses are ones of displeasure and revulsion.

Bree Meiklejohn

Bree Meiklejohn is a first-year classics and creative writing student. She’s also an aspiring writer who loves dogs, Earl Grey tea, and pretending to know what she’s doing.


    1. Lmao, ikr. I thought he would talk about whether it would be banned or not instead of his agenda

  1. It shouldn’t be considered disrespectful to show pro-choicers images of the end result of the choice they so vociferously support. It should bother you to see those gory images. That’s what you support. Those dead babies. That. It’s what you think is good and what you think women should be permitted to do to their own unborn children. You should have to look at it and face the reality of what you are preaching. What do you think an abortion is? Just what do you think it happening? Pro-choicers shouldn’t get to bury their heads in the sand and ignore what’s going on.

    “It’s unethical to deny anyone a choice about their own body, and to force someone to give up on their dreams, goals, and aspirations in exchange for a child they may not be able to adequately care for. ” You speak of ethics, when your opinion is that it’s okay to end the life of a child because of someone’s dreams, goals, and aspirations? You do not hold the moral high ground.

    1. And regardless of whether anyone agrees with you. You have the right and to, not only hold your opinion, but to tell whoever you want regardless of their beliefs. To argue with those with opposing beliefs and to seek out others who believe the same thing and work together to see out your cause. I feel like this respect for all people that the left hold so important, means nothing when they don’t agree with their tribal views. Wether abortion is legal or not we all have the choice to take responsibility for a child that you have produced. You are taking into your own hands the life of a person. Not just any person, but your own. That is something that anyone who must choose has the moral responsibility to contemplate. In some situations you might truly believe it is for the best that the child remains unborn , but I know I can not take a child’s life into my own hands to further my own selfish desires. There is responsibility that must be taken on sometimes, abandoning your own life for the sake of another in a non-ideal situation is an act of the purest form of love and those who choose death have ignored their call to responsibility.

  2. I am reluctantly pro choice. Frankly, I think a lot of young, healthy women should be encouraged to give their babies up for adoption. I do think that abortion is the taking of a life, but there are many ways that people can be saved (like through organ transplant) by the services of another yet we don’t compel them.

    I am, however, vociferously supportive of pro life groups having their right to state their opinion and show any graphic picture they want whenever they want. If the pictures are true and not doctored, then it is up to pro choice people to rationalize them or look away. It is not the responsibility of pro life advocates to protect the public from the truth.

  3. Idk if this applies to the entire pro-life group member on campus but I’d like to point out that EVERY SINGLE DAMN PRO-LIFERS I’VE EVER SEEN ON CAMPUS HAS BEEN MIDDLE AGED MEN. I’ve been attending university for 3 years now. I don’t want to be rude, but I just gotta ask what the hell they think they’re doing there. Do you they have uterus? Will they be the one to take the consequences of childbirth when unwanted accidents happen? Who gave them the right to speak in place for women in the first place? I’m always beyond disgusted by presence of men trying to get themselves involved in WOMEN’S issue. Though, I gotta say that I always get amused when they bring up hypothetical scenarios in their arguments. Like the comment above. Will the fetus ever read the sentence in the article? Hell no. Not ever. Not now. NOT EVER. Will the women read the sentence in the article? Yes. I can’t believe some people deliberately choose to stand on the side of multi cell thing against a fully functional human being with free will and rationality. I’ve stopped “respecting other’s opinion” when it comes to this issue. Y’all pro-lifers just being ignorant idiots now.

      1. Do you mean does she feel the same about men telling women they shouldn’t have access to safe legal procedures and men supporting women’s bodily autonomy?

        My guess would be probably not…

        1. If she doesn’t believe men have any right to an opinion about pro-life talking points because they lack a uterus, I want to know if she believes that these men have any right to an opinion about pro-choice talking points. Either way they don’t have a uterus.

          I suspect that “no uterus, no opinion” isn’t really how she feels at all. I bet she’s fine with men who think just like she does on this issue.

    1. The topic of abortion is certainly controversial. You make an interesting point about who should speak for and about women facing an unwanted pregnancy. I am a sixty-six year old male. You’re free to either accept or reject this comment. I’m a practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over forty years. I’m firmly “pro-life,” but that being said, I believe that a woman should be allowed to make an INFORMED DECISION about what to do about her unplanned pregnancy. In an environment of peace without pressure she should be offered all the options available, including the abortion option. If after all those options are presented, she firmly wants an abortion, then that choice must be respected. That being said however, I’m opposed to “late term” abortions, especially when she is about to give birth! The power to create new life is a profound and sacred power between our Creator (God) and us, His sons and daughters. He holds His children accountable and responsible to Him for how it’s exercised. Of course, there are extenuating circumstances that may necessitate an abortion like “rape,” or “incest.” But, generally speaking, the abortion option should be the last to be considered NOT THE FIRST! It’s interesting to note that the woman at the center of the “Roe verses Wade” decision many years ago ultimately regretted her decision, and became a staunch pro-life supporter!

      1. You sound like every other pro-choicer I’ve ever talked to. Strange that you describe yourself as pro-life when you support abortion and think women should not only have the legal right but should be presented with it as a viable option. That’s the definition of pro-choice. I think you’re confused about what pro-life means.

        1. Hi Anne,
          I wrestled over the issue for some time. The comment I expressed was the culmination of considering all aspects of the issue, NOT just the abortion one. My position was spiritually confirmed to me, and I’m comfortable with that! I can assure you, I’m neither confused or deluded. On the contrary, my position strikes a balance between the rights of the mother, and the rights of her unborn child. It would deprive a woman of her agency “freedom to choose,” if she were forced to carry the child against her will. One of the main reasons why God placed us here is to make choices. To choose right over wrong. That’s why it’s important to maintain chastity and virtue. But if a woman decides to continue with the unplanned pregnancy, she could always have her child placed for adoption. Life over death is always a better alternative!

    2. I am a strongly pro-life woman. I have given birth to four precious babies and have a fifth growing inside of me right now. With technology today no one can honestly use the clump of cells argument. The vast majority of abortion supporters these days know that they are murdering a baby and are now defending the right to do so. Look at some early ultrasound photos online. I watched a video last night if a baby girl born at only 26 weeks gestation weighing one pound! It was a miracle and she had every right at a chance to live. If you want to remain childless for life then why don’t you get sterilized? That way you won’t have to live with hurt and regret of killing your own child someday. There are many testimonies of women who have had abortions and regretted it for their whole life. It is evil and unnatural.

    3. Calling names gets you somewhere… After the article call pro lifers out for not having respectful debate and then the other side proceeds to do the same. Also you don’t have to be raped to speak about rape, u don’t have to be murdered to speak about murder. You can’t just say people can’t speak on certain topics purely because of their gender, that’s extremely sexist and rude.

    4. As a current member of the UAlberta Pro Life Club I can confirm there are 0 middle aged men in our club as of today. I’m sure if you had ever spoken to us at a table event you’d realize it’s a fair split of young men and women attending the University.
      Although, I question why it matters if middle aged men are representing the Pro Life position. Middle aged men are the demographic who made abortion legal, so I wonder why their opinions are to be silenced when they are against abortion?

  4. Your concern for the rights of individuals dont apply to the alive, but as of yet unborn child? You talk about selfish money problems as a reason to murder a child? Shamefully callous. Lastly, think about the possibility of YOU not being here on earth because some selfish asshole decided for, whatever terrible reason any if you assholes use to murder unborn people, to murder you.

  5. “It’s unethical to deny anyone a choice about their own body, and to force someone to give up on their dreams, goals, and aspirations…”

    If it could talk, what do you think a fetus would say about this statement?

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