Seven years ago I travelled to New York with two friends to attend the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters. We joined a delegation of pro-lifers with a mission to represent and report. I attended, among other things, a session by then-director of International Planned Parenthood Dr. Jill Greer, which I wrote about in a couple of newspaper columns and later mentioned during my debate with Dr. Fraser Fellows of London, Ontario.
With the rise of fake news and satirical sites, I’ve made it a habit to double-check sources to ensure the stories in my newsfeed are real. It’s exactly what I did after reading “Couples are turning extra IVF embryos into jewellery.” My heart couldn’t quite believe what my brain was registering.
What if someone tells you that abortion allowed her to be a mother? Since this seems counter-intuitive, you’d likely want to find out how this could be. My reaction was the same. Though any article on abortion piques my interest, I was particularly intrigued by Paola Dragnic’s recent piece on BuzzFeed, entitled “The Abortion That Let Me Be a Mother.” How is it possible, I wondered, that terminating a pregnancy results in maternity?
Over the past few years I’ve had the opportunity to debate various people who willingly defended that abortion is morally justifiable up to a certain point. With the exception of Ontario’s late-term abortionist Dr. Fraser Fellows, my opponents have always been professors. That was also the case when I debated Dr. Wayne Sumner at the University of Toronto on March 12th and at Ryerson University on April 8th—events that I believe give us useful insights into a worldview that allows for abortions.
We’d been chatting about our cities, children, and careers while sipping our coffees, when Dr. Matt McLennan asked me a question. “Do you find yourself motivated by religion in the things you do?” I didn’t mind the question—the purpose of meeting was to get to know each other on a personal level before publicly debating each other’s views. Little did I know that this tied directly into one of the main arguments the professor would put forward that evening.
Everything I had heard about my opponent prior to the debate at the University of Ottawa was positive and, as it turned out, also true. A young philosophy professor with an impressive curriculum vitae, Dr. Matt McLennan engaged the audience in a pleasant way and, by questioning the underlying worldview of the pro-life position as well as making a case for personhood post-sentience, provided a thought-provoking defense of abortion. But was it good enough?
In the past month I’ve had the privilege of presenting a case for the pro-life position in formal debates organized by campus pro-life clubs at the University of Western Ontario and the University of Ottawa. On both occasions, I was grateful to my opponent for engaging in dialogue about abortion, an issue that many champion but few are willing to defend in such a public way. The views of those who presented a pro-choice argument, therefore, merit our attention and reflection—something I have decided to do in several articles to determine which case is more compelling.