Letter: Students don’t have ‘right not to be disturbed’

RE: “Lifeline has ‘double-standard’ for student rights,” Aug. 29, 2012

I would like to commend Ms. Campbell for voicing her opinion, and her honesty in doing so. I will gladly admit that Lifeline’s strategy is jarring, and sympathize with the many people who are uncomfortable with our pictures. They are not easy to show, discuss, or see while one is going about their day.

However, I must ask whether using graphic imagery is in itself the same as forcing the student population to look at such imagery.

Ms. Campbell is correct when she says that people should be free to disregard our message, and that one’s own rights being exercised should not negatively impact the rights of others. In essence, my rights end where your rights begin. Yet nowhere in Canadian law is there a right not to be disturbed or offended. Anyone who is unsettled by a display on campus is always free to look away — no matter how compelling the content. Section 2 (b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that we have the “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”

We need to ask ourselves why Lifeline’s pictures are upsetting. They depict the decapitation, dismemberment, and disemboweling of some of the 300 humans in-utero aborted every day, as noted in 2004 by Statistics Canada. The act — whose results the pictures show — should bother us more than the signs themselves. According to CBC News, abortion has been decriminalized (legalized) in Canada since 1969, and completely unrestricted since 1988. The current state of affairs does not automatically make this procedure a right.

I agree that women should be able to control their reproductive capacities, but that control ends when a new life enters the equation at conception. The woman’s pre-born offspring also have a right not to be killed. Abortion is a sign that society fails to take care of all people — not only unborn children or their mothers. It is horrific that pre-born children, the most vulnerable of human beings, can be killed for any reason or no reason in our country. Just as appalling is the fact that their parents may feel there is no way to continue their lives without consenting to a death. It is time for society to step up and take care of these people on a large scale, though that does not excuse us from raising awareness of the issue and its gravity.

Ms. Campbell also states that if pro-choice advocates hypothetically had to force their way into an area to get their point across, it would be a church. The pro-life view transcends spirituality (or lack of it).

Instead, abortion should be examined in light of science, human rights and the definition of a human being. In fact, Section 223 (1) of Canada’s Criminal Code states that “a child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother.”

Surely most people who identify as pro-choice will agree with me and find something wrong with that statement. There are plenty of non-religious and even atheist pro-lifers, who acknowledge the pre-born child’s humanity and rights from conception.

Some of these people can easily be found on campus. Many pro-lifers — including myself — hold the view that our different faiths are not vital to this debate. Such things are not necessary to prove that pre-born children do, in fact, belong to the species homo sapiens and therefore deserve protection.

Above all, anyone entering the abortion debate needs to weigh two factors, and judge them based on how long they last. Which is worse — a temporary feeling of offense, or the deliberate (and of course, permanent) ending of a human life?

 

—Taylor Hyatt,

President, Carleton Lifeline