Earlier this week pro-lifers in the Greater Toronto Area joined forces in order to show the truth about abortion near Ryerson University. Due to its downtown location we could exercise our Charter rights on public sidewalks while reaching hundreds of people. “This is the third time now,” lamented a pro-choice student. “Don’t they have better things to do?”
The reporter from the Sheridan College newspaper stopped me as we were making our way out the door. He gestured back at the hallway full of irate protestors with their armloads of fabric and hastily scrawled signs. “You guys know that some people are going to be angry when you come here,” he said, sticking a tape recorder in my face. “So why do you come back?”
The staff and volunteers at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform have been touring colleges across Ontario this fall doing pro-life outreach, and of course this has triggered much conversation on the concept of “safe spaces” by the students and staff who expect colleges to be free of discourse that they find uncomfortable. Today, we were engaging students and having interesting conversations when a clique of protestors with signs showed up and began to position themselves around us.
I have never felt quite so encouraged and inspired, and yet so angry, in my life! All day, my phone has been going virtually non-stop as messages come in via texts, Facebook, emails, and phone calls. And all in response to a simple Facebook post I made this morning.
As the administrator of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR), I receive all the emails sent to our general email account, and yesterday when one came in from a counselor of a pregnancy care centre, I immediately forwarded it to all of my colleagues, and then responded to the email asking if I was allowed to make a Facebook post about it. This morning, she responded giving me permission so I promptly made a post saying:
Several years ago, I encountered the ideas of the Jewish philosopher Emmanuel Levinas while I idly skimmed my high school religion textbook. I was intrigued by his philosophy of “the face-to-face.” Levinas argues that when we encounter another human being face-to-face, we become ethically responsible towards that human being. He declares that "The approach to the face is the most basic mode of responsibility” towards “the Other.” I felt intuitively that his philosophy was true, but like most of my high school learning, his ideas fell into some cluttered filing cabinet at the back of my brain.
“I want to know what YOU believe.” That’s what Henry told me at Florida Atlantic University last month during GAP. He had taken a pamphlet as he had passed by the display earlier that morning. As I opened my mouth to respond, he interjected. He knew what the pamphlet said. He’d read the entire thing. So he didn’t want a scripted talk. He didn’t want me to rehash the words inside the pamphlet. He wanted to know—what did I actually believe?
For those of us who work in the pro-life movement sometimes it is hard not to lose hope and get discouraged. Since the R v. Morgentaler decision in 1988, Canada has had absolutely no restrictions on abortion and members of my generation have never known a life without abortion free on demand throughout all stages of pregnancy. When looking at the state of our country it’s hard to imagine trying to reverse history, to go back to when abortion was unthinkable, to an abortion free Canada.
Imagine knowing you were unwanted. The realization that you were one of the lucky ones. That somehow you didn’t deserve to be alive. Imagine looking at the body of a tiny, torn-up baby and knowing that this is how your three siblings were brutally murdered. Knowing that this was what everyone thought was best for you; that the only reason you made it out alive is because you were kept a secret. Because your mom hid you until you were too old to be brutally decapitated, dismembered, and disembowelled. This is what my friend, Ethan, realized. What he thought about almost every single day.