The Context: Reaching Out to a Wounded Campus in Response to an Emergency

Not everyone can make our weekly meetings on Thursdays from 4:30-6pm. This series of posts will share some highlights from our weekly seminar discussions.

It’s important to set the context before engaging in pro-life work.

The Situation: An emergency, a woundedness

Canada has no legal restrictions on abortion. We’re the only Western democracy in this situation, and the only other countries with no legal restrictions on abortion are… North Korea and China — not the best human rights club to be in. Abortion is legal in Canada through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason or no reason at all. The only limiting factor is how late a doctor is willing to perform an abortion.

100,000 children are killed by abortion every year in Canada. About 275 children died today alone. This should tell us that this isn’t another charitable causes — this is an emergency.

But it also drives home the point that our culture is deeply wounded by abortion. A quarter of our generation has been killed by abortion. One in three Canadian women will have an abortion in their lifetime. 38% of abortions are repeats. Not only have so many women had abortions, but of the three million abortion victims in Canada since 1969, what of the six million parents, the 12 million grandparents, the siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles? How many people must know a friend or loved one who’s had an abortion, if they haven’t had a direct abortion experience themselves?

When talking to people on campus, it’s safer to assume that the people we’re talking with have already had an abortion experience or have a friend or loved one who has.

More than ever, just knowing the arguments isn’t enough.

Integrating head, heart and hands

According to Aristotle, effective communicators need to have ethos (credibility/character), pathos (empathy), and logos (logic). Roman Catholic Archbishop of Toronto, Cardinal Thomas Collins, puts it this way: we need to build a bridge (ethos), touch the heart (pathos), and then and only then can we effectively deliver the message (logos). If all we have is an argument, no one will want to listen.

Another way to think about this is through Stand to Reason’s ambassador model. To be effective pro-life ambassadors, we need:

  • Knowledge (logos/head), an accurate mind — science, evidence, reason
  • Wisdom (pathos/heart), an artful method — how to communicate the knowledge we have
  • Character (ethos/hands), an attractive manner — everything we say and how we say it is complimented by who we are, so that if we talk about respect, we need to show respect, and if we talk about love, we need to show love

“Whom you would change, you must first love, and they must know that you love them.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

To be effective ambassadors, we need to integrate our head (knowledge), our hearts (empathy, relationship, understanding) and our hands (our actions).

Our club seeks to model this integration of head (logos), heart (pathos) and hands (ethos) as well:

  • Head: we grow our knowledge through…
    • weekly seminar discussions on apologetics, strategy, politics, in bioethics, biology, moral philosophy, medicine, law, history, etc.
    • pro-life speakers series, bringing great speakers to our club membersh
  • Heart: we stretch our hearts through…
    • approaching the issue from this posture, as ambassadors reaching out to a wounded culture in response to an emergency
    • a strategy of outreach that emphasizes dialogue and relationship with our peers on campus, to change hearts and minds in order to save lives – being “right” or “winning an argument” isn’t what matters
    • heart apologetics: being conscious of the heart and mind of a woman in a crisis pregnancy, and of post-abortive woundedness
  • Hands: we lend our hands through…
    • putting our ideas and our empathy into action
    • weekly activism, weekly volunteer outreach — the frequency of our activities should match the gravity of the situation, an ongoing emergency calls for regular action
    • getting active off campus, e.g. March for Life, or with Toronto Right to Life, or in politics, etc.

Knowledge is important, and the arguments matter. But we can’t stop there. To reach our campus and change our culture, we need to be effective ambassadors, integrating head, heart and hands, both as individuals and as a club, so that we can change hearts and minds about abortion.

The Motivations for Abortion

Lastly, when considering the context of abortion, it’s also important to take note of why women choose abortion. According to Planned Parenthood’s research arm,

Reasons Given
Inadequate Finances 21%
Not ready for responsibility 21%
Woman’s life would be changed too much 16%
Problems with relationship; unmarried 12%
Too young; not mature enough 11%
Children are grown; woman has all she want 8%
Fetus has possible health problem 3%
Woman has health problem 3%
Pregnancy caused by rape, incest 1%
Other 4%
Average number of reasons given 3.7%

Take note of two important things:

  1. The hard cases are the rare cases. Rape is an issue that constantly comes up in conversation, but it only accounts for a very small percentage of abortions. These hard cases are still important to address, but remember that this is single digit percentage territory — most abortions are not hard case scenarios
  2. Providing adequate support to mothers and families in crisis pregnancies matters. The top reasons are effected by having access to adequate services. This is why we make a point of highlighting the work of the Family Care Office at U of T, or partner with organizations like Aid to Women.

Next Week: Apologetics Training

Next week, our meeting will run one hour longer than usual, from 4:30-7pm. (Come for all, or drop in for as long as you can stay!) We’ll do a comprehensive apologetics training in partnership with Toronto Right to Life, covering the key concepts to equip you to defend pre-born human rights and have effective conversations about abortion. We’ll also have some time for role-playing and practicing dialogue. This is preparation for both the UTSFL Activism Team, and for the TRTL Speakers Bureau.

See you then!

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