Pro-life display planned for University of Alberta creating dissent among students
Chandra Lye, CTV Edmonton
Published Saturday, February 28, 2015 6:05PM MST
Last Updated Saturday, February 28, 2015 6:32PM MST
A pro-life display scheduled for this week at the University of Alberta has been causing debate among students.
The demonstration is planned by Go-Life. A group’s spokesperson said they put up posters warning students of the graphic abortion photography display and to suggest students avoid the quad area of campus if they do not wish to see the images.
“To be courteous to students who might feel they are at a place in their life where they can’t be confronted with the issue of abortion,” Kianna Owen explained.
“Abortion dismembers, decapitates and disembowels the body of children so by nature of the act of abortion the images will be quite graphic.”
Other students have taken to social media to express their concern about the nature of the display.
“Our main concern is we wish the university would have been more contentious about the timing and the location of the display,” Zoe Chaytors told CTV News.
She said thousands of students pass through quad every day.
“We are concerned that if students don’t want to see such graphic images they are going to have to avoid quad, which shouldn’t be an expectation the university has of their students.
“If it had been in a classroom or in a covered tent students would then have the opportunity to decide whether or not they want to engage with that material.”
However, Owen said the nature of the exhibit should not determine if it is allowed on campus or not.
“We think that just because a truth might be uncomfortable doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shown.
“Our purpose is to show campus what abortion does to children.”
University of Alberta President, Indira Samarasekera released a statement saying they support ‘a right to freedom of expression’. The statement also says the group has followed all university policies and procedures in preparation for their display, and they have access to the same spaces as any other student group.
Chaytors said she was also concerned the exhibit was going to coincide with the university’s Pride week parade so she and others are planning a peaceful protest.
“On Tuesday we are going to meet in quad. Everyone is invited to bring posters with messages of support and solidarity not only for women who have gone through experiences of terminating a pregnancy but also for the wonderful and great LGBTQ community here at the University of Alberta.”
She said they planned to block the images for those walking in the pride parade.
“Anyone who is walking in the parade they can just enjoy the parade and they don’t have to be exposed to these graphic images.”
Owen said Go Life had no issue with protests of the display.
“The University is a place where intellectual discourse and discussion is supposed to happen so we very much encourage students with opposing opinions to share their views and their own perspectives. Of course, we hope that would be done respectfully.”
She added the group was not pleased their display was going to coincide with pride week.
“We found out last Tuesday that our displays would be going on at the same time and we are actually quite upset about that.”
However she explained they have volunteers coming in from Calgary and it was too late to change the time of their event.
Another student, who told CTV News she had an abortion years ago, said she is worried about how the display may shame other women.
“They will have to take ownership as a group that yes they have good intentions but what they are doing is alienating women and what they are doing is putting us in a very fragile mental state.”
In the end, for Owen the issue comes down to conscience.
“If unborn children are human and abortion kills those children then I feel like I have a responsibility as another member of the human family to protect the weak and vulnerable in our society.”
She also denied the display would be comparing abortion to genocide but rather prenatal and abortion images.
The display is scheduled to be set up in quad on March 3 and 4 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
With files from Amanda Anderson, Kelsey Nichols