GAP display breached no agreement with SFU


By Mary Clare Turner

In a recent Peak article, Lila Saber condemned SFU Lifeline, the university pro-life club, for bringing the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) to the Burnaby campus. She also criticized the university administration and the SFSS for not shutting down or blocking the display.

According to her, GAP is too graphic and offensive to be shown unobstructed in public and she does not “understand why the university thinks that groups like [Lifeline] have a right to space at SFU and a right to violate the safety of others.”  She accuses Lifeline of contravening an agreement with the university administration regarding the arrangement of signs as well.

To clarify, there was no agreement with the university administration for the club to contravene. We submitted a set-up plan (which we followed) to the administration, which allowed a path through Convocation Mall behind the signs so that people could avoid them. This plan was rejected by the administration on the grounds that students could come upon the display inadvertently. They requested that we obscure the signs in some way, much like saying we could have our freedom of speech on the condition that we whispered. We declined to submit another plan because to comply with demands to obstruct our display would be to accept an infringement on our right to free speech.

We do have the right to free speech. That is why groups like ours have a right to space at SFU. Under the Constitution of Canada, everyone has the right to free speech and the right to freedom of assembly as long as those assembled do nothing illegal. There is no right, however, not to be offended.

The university administration was not wrong to allow us to continue our display. If they can be blamed for anything, it is for allowing other students to censor us, as this sends the message that the best way to win an argument is to silence one’s opponents rather than to prove them wrong with logical arguments. It is true; we do not have a right to threaten the safety of others. However, as we did not threaten anyone’s safety, that has no bearing on whether we should have been allowed space or not.

Ms. Saber is offended because she thinks that abortion and genocide are not comparable and that those who take part in GAP “are appropriating those experiences to serve their own agenda of demonizing women’s control of their own reproductive capacities.”

If the pre-born are not human and abortion does not kill them, then she has every right to be offended. However, the pre-born are not just blobs of tissue. They are also not part of their mothers’ bodies; they are distinct individuals with a separate genetic identity. Basic biology, and honest scientists, tells us that all members of a species that reproduces sexually begin their lives at the moment of fertilization. For example, Dr. Jerome LeJeune, a professor of genetics at the University of Descartes says, “After fertilization has taken place, a new human being has come into being.” There is no convincing evidence to the contrary.

Webster’s New World Encyclopedia of 1992 defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a national, racial, religious, political, cultural, ethnic, or other group defined by the exterminators as undesirable.”

Induced abortions, those which intentionally terminate pregnancies, are, by definition, deliberate. There is a system in place to facilitate them. In Canada they are legal throughout the nine months of pregnancy, tax-payer funded, and available on demand. Even teenagers can have abortions without the knowledge or consent of their parents.

Some people try to justify abortion by saying that mothers’ circumstances can make having children undesirable. Abortion targets the unwanted unborn, whether inconvenient, handicapped, or female. These factors lead us to the conclusion that abortion fits the definition of genocide.

If we are wrong and the pre-born are not human, alive, and therefore valuable, then we offend people for nothing. If we are right, then our society is tolerating the mass killing of innocent, defenseless human beings. We would rather risk offending than tolerate such an injustice.