By Dave Andrusko
It’s probably because I spent more years in academia than I care to admit that I still retain the notion (against all evidence) that conferences put on by universities would at least pretend to be quasi-balanced. So when I read a long letter to the editor of a Canadian newspaper under the headline “Upcoming abortion conference to be one-sided affair,” I made sure I read what Dr. Kevin J. Arsenault had to say.
In his letter to the Journal Pioneer, Arsenault referenced an international conference that will be held August 7-8 at Canada’s University of Prince Edward Island. The title, alas, pretty much says it all: “Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution.”
I went to the webpage of UPEI and downloaded the 46-page outline. I quickly found that Dr. Arsenault did not exaggerate when he wrote,
“After reading the presentation summaries found in the online program it is clear that this conference is not a typical academic conference at all: it is, in fact, a gathering of international academic abortion activists committed to further promoting the cultural and political acceptance of abortion.”
Arsenault focused on the euphemism-ridden language. “[T]he conference program consistently uses the term ‘foetus’ rather than ‘unborn child,’ or terms such as ‘product of conception (POC)’ and, when discussing the grief a mother feels after an abortion, ‘a grievable object.’”
In his letter Arsenault asks, “Why such disdain for using plain, honest language?” His answer is
“The intention is clearly to deflect attention away from what is inherently known to be true in order to diminish awareness of the unpleasant aspects of those truths.
“In his article ‘Euphemism, the University and Disobedience,’ Alexander Duttmann claims that ‘When speaking, writing and thinking, euphemists actively contribute to the suppression of their awareness, and are therefore aware of what they seek to conjure away.”
Such language, Arsenault argues, “has no place in an academic conference at a university.”
Of course, this is not limited to academic gathering. Arsenault wrote
“Those promoting the right for women to end the lives of their unborn children don’t speak plainly about what a woman is actually doing because they instinctively know that it would be far more difficult to convince others that abortion is a morally acceptable and truly healthy choice. That is obviously why pro-choice activists hate to see images of the unborn on pro-life placards…because they show the unborn as the little human beings they are.”
What are a few examples of the workshops at “Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution”? How about (under “Abortion in Literature and Popular Culture”) “Cultures of Abortion and the Fetish Within: Popular Culture, Abortion and Political imagery in post 9-11 America”?
Or (under “Confronting Abortion Stigma”) “’I didn’t like killing my baby’: teenage pregnancy, the construction of risk, and abortion stigmatization in the UK”?
And then there is “Abortion journeys in Northern Ireland; using art activist practice to highlight discrimination.”
As you would expect there is a load of workshops dealing with the situation of abortion in the province of Prince Edward Island (PEI). NRL News Today has carried a number of stories about the all-out efforts of pro-abortionists to persuade the local government to open the spigots to pay for abortion. In the cross-hairs are the provinces of New Brunswick and PEI
So in that sense, the conference is pulling double-duty. Talking about the “unmet need” for abortion in countries all over the globe and snipping at the Prince William Island government for not funding abortions performed at private facilities.
Prof. Arsenault’s conclusion is a fitting place to end:
“It is not surprising that abortion activists use euphemisms to avoid key questions at the centre of the abortion debate. It is, however, shocking that professional academics would use these same tactics and invite only pro-choice academics to present at this conference. It is even more disturbing that UPEI would host this conference and allow such a biased pro-choice activist endeavour to wrap itself in the guise of ‘academic excellence.’”