By Maaike Rosendal
When the campus pro-life club at McMaster University in Hamilton [Ontario, Canada] asked me to speak at a public pro-life event, I didn’t expect the audience to be sympathetic to our cause. It didn’t come as a surprise then when, on my way to the presentation venue, a friend texted that about 20 to 25 protesters with signs were already lining the hallway leading to the room. My colleagues and I greeted them as we entered the building—some nodded, some looked away.
Their slogans sounded familiar. “Keep your rosaries off my ovaries,” one young woman proclaimed, which I found amusing since at CCBR, we either don’t own rosaries or don’t intend to put them anywhere near anyone’s ovaries. A male student held a sign that read “Keep your laws off my body.” Huh? Has anyone told him that abortions are generally performed on women?
Another sign helpfully explained, “Pro-choice: the radical idea that women are people.” Now that’s something we can agree on—let’s hope we can establish that the pre-born are too.
Not so, according to the next sign. “Pro-sex. Pro-child. Pro-woman. Pro-abortion.” Alright, I thought prayerfully, there’s a lot of work to do tonight.
Several minutes to 7, pro-lifers went into the hallway, expressing their desire for respectful dialogue and inviting the protesters to come in. But the pro-choicers had something else in mind. As soon as the club president welcomed everyone, she was interrupted by excessive applause and yelling. When she asked the audience to be courteous, protesters began delivering speeches on the reproduction of various animals while cheered on by others. For the next hour, they made it impossible for the presentation to take place with the aid of an air horn, bull horn, and silly string while singing, whistling, throwing paper balls, and mockingly reading from the Bible.
A few open-minded students begged the protesters to stop. “I’m pro-choice too but I’m very disappointed in your behaviour,” a female student exclaimed. “I’m really interested in hearing their side,” another young woman said. The protesters clearly weren’t. “What are they afraid of?” someone asked aptly. “Why are they stopping us from seeing what abortion looks like?”
When police was called, the dispatcher assumed that “these are anti-abortion protesters, correct?” When the officers arrived, one asked, “Are those disrupting the presentation pro-life?” Meanwhile, my co-workers were patient and professional, engaging in pleasant conversations with pro-choice students who were appalled by the conduct of their peers. I couldn’t help but smile. “They’re actually pro-choice, officer. But they’re okay with taking our choices away.”
It wasn’t until later that night, long after the protesters had left and the talk had taken place, that I realized the truth of that statement. The crowd known for its tolerance of abortion has a lengthy history of being intolerant towards those who hold different views. Think only of similar protests at McGill, Waterloo, and Brock University, the arrest of pro-lifers at Carleton and Mount Royal, and the recent theft and vandalism of pro-life materials at UVic—not to mention censorship by student unions or university administration and charges of non-academic misconduct—all for only one reason: the peaceful expression of one’s pro-life views.
While it may bewilder some that those who call themselves pro-choice oppose a presentation about what is actually chosen, we shouldn’t be surprised—it’s the logical extension of their world view, after all.
When you believe that a woman’s right to bodily autonomy trumps her child’s right to life, infringing on the free speech rights of adults you disagree with isn’t that big of a leap. When the solution to difficult life circumstances is not solving problems but killing pre-born people, forcibly silencing born people you find problematic isn’t that much different. Thursday night’s protesters illustrated their point powerfully: pro-choice for some means no choice for others.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed this, and the contrast between the two sides was crystal clear. While abortion supporters sneered at the fact that a female would oppose abortion and rolled their eyes at my baby daughter’s presence, my colleagues showed utmost respect for everyone in the room. In fact, when the police wanted to remove everyone holding a sign, we defended their right to be there and only asked for the removal of those who were disruptive.
When the protesters verbally harassed pro-choice girls who asked them to be quiet, accusing them of being “rats” and “traitors” to the extent that one left in tears, campus pro-life students were compassionate, caring, and exchanged contact information to make sure she was okay. And when midwifery and nursing students were told by their pro-abortion peers that their profession is supposed to promote abortion, they simply said, “Why can’t we care for all human beings?”
To be honest, I was not surprised. The pro-choice perspective holds that we can deprive some human beings of the most basic of human rights. Once you start dehumanizing some, who’s stopping you from doing it to others?
But the pro-life perspective is the exact opposite: it’s inclusive rather than exclusive. It’s founded on the principles of fundamental justice—on the right to life, liberty, and security of the person. And not only do we say it, we live it. Because when you say that all human beings have human rights, your life should reflect that.
That came through at McMaster University the other night. Not only did pro-choicers thank the team for being “humble, loving, and professional,” one attendee wrote: “Your arguments were very scientifically accurate and irrefutable.” Someone else messaged later, “As someone who was on the fence…I am finding myself more and more fully against abortion in ANY case. Thank you for coming to our school and being so great!”
Needless to say, I felt privileged to represent those who respect the lives of all members of the human family. The opposition may try to scare and silence us, try to keep the truth about abortion hidden, but the truth always prevails. And actions speak louder than words.
Editor’s note. This appeared at unmaskingchoice.ca