Pro-Abortion Censorship on Canadian Campuses
In response to a series of controversies over abortion debates on Canadian campuses, the student government of York University in Toronto has tabled an outright ban on student clubs that are opposed to abortion.Translation: the campus leftists feared that, if the issue was openly debated, at least some students would be convinced by the pro-life position.
Gilary Massa, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students, said student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space, as long as they do it “within a pro-choice realm,” and that all clubs will be investigated to ensure compliance.
“You have to recognize that a woman has a choice over her own body,” Ms. Massa said. “We think that these pro-life, these anti-choice groups, they’re sexist in nature . . . The way that they speak about women who decide to have abortions is demoralizing. They call them murderers, all of them do . . . Is this an issue of free speech? No, this is an issue of women’s rights.”
The school’s administration condemned the decision as contrary to its academic mission.
He said denying students access to the various aspects of the abortion debate was not in keeping with the school’s mandate, and that the administration would try to compensate by providing its own venues and resources to legitimate debates.
Margaret Fung, co-president of York’s Students for Bioethical Awareness, the school’s only anti-abortion group, was not consulted.
“What is happening is anti-choice groups coming on to campus under the guise of debates or through student clubs, to promote anti-choice sentiments, and then student unions responding to it, and then receiving very organized backlash ... A lot of these groups are funded and organized under a larger organization,” Ms. Massa said, citing the Genocide Awareness Project, a university-targeted poster campaign of the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, a privately funded U.S. organization with a Canadian branch in Alberta.
The situation at York came to a crisis in March, when a speaker from that organization, on Ms. Fung’s invitation, came to debate abortion with a member of the school’s Free-thinkers, Skeptics and Atheists club.
The York Federation of Students (YFS) executive, fearing the effects of gruesome imagery and hostile argument, hastily voted to cancel the event, which prompted the administration to publicly declare its support for free speech and provide an alternate venue.
In a recent editorial about the conflict, the editor-in-chief of York’s student paper called the federation’s stance on free speech “dangerous,” and wondered about its claim that the “vast majority” of students support its position. “When did these people take it upon themselves to decide what we think?” Zalina Alvi wrote.The first appalling thing about this is how utterly ordinary it is to find that the politically correct leftists wrapping themselves in the mantle of “women’s rights” (or “gay rights” or “anti-racism”) and working to shut up speech they don’t like.
Meanwhile, similar controversies are unfolding across Canada, with anti-abortion groups at Capilano College, the University of British Columbia-Okanagan, Lakehead University and Carleton University stripped of official club status and funding, at least once by fiat of a single member of student council. Some clubs have regained status, while others appealed their cases to human rights commissions.
Efforts to formalize the York ban on anti-abortion groups began in earnest last weekend, when the YFS brought a successful motion to the annual meeting in Ottawa of the Canadian Federation of Students, a national umbrella group of student unions.
“Be it resolved that member locals [of the CFS] that refuse to allow anti-choice organizations access to their resources and space be supported. And further, be it resolved that a pro-choice organization kit be created that may include materials such as a fact sheet, buttons, contact information for local pro-choice organizations and research on anti-choice organizations and the conservative think-tanks that fund them,” the motion reads.
A similar policy, specifically to ban “anti-choice” groups at York, is to be voted on this weekend at the first board meeting of next year’s YFS executive, which is composed largely of student politicians who are entering their third year on the five-member executive.
“I’m confident that it’ll pass,” Ms. Massa said.
For a chilling reminder of how these fascists think, check out a letter written to the National Post by a group supporting the ban in response to an editorial supporting free speech.
I was disgusted when I read this editorial. The York Federation of Students (YFS) is taking a stand on behalf of its members and refusing to allow anti-choice groups spread hate speech against women. There is a very clear difference between pro-life and anti-choice: Anti-choice groups actively attack women’s autonomy over their own bodies and lives. This is flagrant sexism. And sexism is not a mere “thought crime” as the editorial asserts, but rather is a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code because it is a serious and systemic problem that has consistently subjugated women all throughout history.Thus those intolerant of speech invoke “human rights” in an effort to shut up those with whom they disagree.
Which, of course, underlines a key problem with the concept “human rights:” it can pretty much mean what you want to mean. And for these politically correct feminists, it most certainly doesn’t include free speech.