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Can the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice movements find common ground?

On Tuesday, March 10th from 6-7:30pm in Room 2118 of Sidney Smith Hall, participate in the second event of #LifeWeek2015 and see for yourself!

Join us for a panel discussion featuring advocates from both sides who will discuss issues like caring for pregnant women and the background circumstances that lead to abortion.

Panel:
•Enza Rattenni
•Nick Van der Graaf
•Ness Fraser
•The Sisters of Life

For more information, check out our Facebook event page!

Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our official calendar for more details and live updates about #LifeWeek2015!

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Join us Thursday, March 12th from 6:30-8:30pm in Room 1101 of Sandford Fleming for a debate featuring Maaike Rosendal of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform and Professor Wayner Sumner of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Toronto.

Part of #LifeWeek2015!

For more information and to RSVP, check out our Facebook event page.

For more updates about #LifeWeek2015, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our calendar.

 

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On Monday, March 9, the University of Toronto Students for Life will host a public lecture with Dr. Calhoun of West Virginia University.

Located in Room 119 of the Galbraith Building, the talk, the first event of #LifeWeek2015, will take place from 12-1pm and will explore how recent scientific advances enable doctors to treat previously lethal diagnoses in the womb.

The talk will also include a free lunch.

For more information, visit our Facebook event page.

To get the latest updates about #LifeWeek2015 and other events, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check out our calendar.

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How can a country fight to prevent suicide with one hand and endorse it with the other? That is the question facing Canadians after the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision striking down the total ban on physician assisted suicide. This decision comes on the heels of a concurrent shift in public support for just such a decision. This growing support for legalized euthanasia is somewhat surprising, however, in that it comes at a time during which the public is becoming increasingly sensitive towards addressing and combatting the underlying triggers for suicide in other contexts. North American society as a whole has taken important strides towards removing the stigma associated with abuse, depression and mental illness, with the aim to provide compassionate avenues out of these distressing circumstances to those who see no other option than to take their own lives. We rightfully lament suicides as tragedies and vow to change our culture so as to reach out to individuals facing the same despair and hopelessness.

And yet what is the response when those seeking a way out of their suffering are the aged, the disabled, the terminally ill? Not a rousing endorsement of a palliative care revolution, providing quality pain relief and compassionate care to the suffering. Nor is it an army of friends or volunteers looking to provide comfort, empathy and a reversal of spirits for those whose anguish is magnified by isolation and a feeling of abandonment. Instead we suggest that the most merciful approach is to help them pull the metaphorical trigger; to remove the sufferer, rather than the suffering.

There are many possible reasons for this differential approach, and I hesitate to postulate on the most likely cause. What is clear, though, is that a certain cognitive dissonance is present in our attitudes towards the dignity of the human person, treating some deaths as tragedies and others as acts of mercy.

From a policy standpoint, these incongruous attitudes can interplay in two main ways. On the one hand, the cognitive dissonance can be maintained, remaining unexamined and under the radar. In such a case, the interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling can remain strict and narrow. From a pragmatic standpoint this could be seen as a (relatively) positive outcome for opponents of euthanasia in that it will keep the number of cases low. However, looking beneath the surface of such a policy one can find very troubling philosophical implications. In this circumstance, the underlying logic is that people become arbiters of the value of individual human lives, something which is incompatible with the ideals of liberal democracy but which is an attitude that has become increasingly prevalent in recent decades. In setting up a framework for the application of euthanasia, politicians, physicians, family members and citizens make decisions over what deaths are acceptable to expedite and which ones are not. They thus send a clear message to those individuals not fortunate enough to receive support and compassion which targets their symptoms that their state of life is one not worth ameliorating, but rather extinguishing.

The other possibility is that we will slowly begin to reject the arbitrariness of such an approach and simply do away with euthanasia regulations. Invoking such slippery-slope argument is often ridiculed as specious. However, in the context of legalized euthanasia, it is an argument which is vindicated by precedent. In Belgium, the legal right to assisted suicide has been extended to children. In the Netherlands, euthanasia has become an established medical option which is in many cases applied without explicit consent from patients. It is entirely plausible that such a similar erosion of regulation can occur in Canada, not simply because of a pattern but due to the underlying value shift that accompanies such a profound social and political decision. Once a society clears the moral hurdle associated with legitimizing and normalizing euthanasia, it becomes increasingly difficult to regulate the practice because any efforts to do so become arbitrary. If it becomes acceptable to sanction and facilitate the taking of a human life on request, how can any third party have the moral authority to serve as an arbiter of when such a request should or should not be honoured?

None of this is to suggest that euthanasia is only to be avoided because of the difficulties surrounding its implementation. While such a consequentialist argument plays an important part in creating an informed public debate on the issue, the pro-life movement’s opposition to physician assisted suicide does not hinge on any specific regulatory dilemmas. As has already been explored in a previous paragraph, the legalization of euthanasia is ethically objectionable regardless of how strict or loose the regulatory framework is, because in either case the inviolable sanctity of human life is being undermined.

The only ethical solution to this dilemma is to maintain an unwavering opposition to the devaluation of human life in whatever form it takes. This may not be easy or politically palatable, but such has been true of many of the most important social justice movements of our history. In short, the solution to suicide is not to help someone pull the trigger. The solution is to take the gun away, and in its place put a hand of solidarity, love and compassion.

It’s hard to believe that we are halfway through the school year and already in 2015! UTSFL is hopeful as we gear up for a New Year of pro-life activism. But before we get too caught up in our plans, let’s remind ourselves of the ways that we reached students, faculty, and staff with the pro-life message last semester:

We reached out to lots of students with our table at various Clubs Fairs…
 September 1       September 2
…and sold baked goods as a fundraiser for Aid to Women.

October 5

Some of us were able to attend the NCLN Symposium, which gave us the tools and wisdom to make our club as effective as possible.

September 3

We helped organize a group to participate in LifeChain…

October 1

shared the story of the life of Elliot Hartman Mooney in “99 Balloons”…
October 3                  October 2
and welcomed the Sisters of Life who taught us about Understanding the Heart of a Pregnant Woman in Crisis.

October 4

We hosted an event in which Maaike Rosendal from the CCBR taught us how to dialogue on abortion…

November 1a

and used our newly-acquired skills to speak to students about the current status of abortion law in canada (hint: there is no law).

November 1

And we finished off the year with a Christmas Social, in support of Birthright!

December 1

December 2December 3

Happy New Year to all! Let’s see what we can accomplish this semester!

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A recent editorial in the Toronto Star provides a critical examination of the dangers associated with the legalization of euthanasia. It was written by Dr. Heidi Janz, a professor at the University of Alberta who has a physical disability, in response to a bill introduced by Canadian Member of Parliament Steven Fletcher which seeks to decriminalize assisted suicide. In the editorial, Dr. Janz discusses her fears around how legalizing euthanasia would increase “the social vulnerability of every single disabled and elderly Canadian” by legitimizing the belief that death is preferable to certain life conditions, however limited they may be by illness or injury. She notes how this attitude is offensive to the dignity of individuals with disabilities, and also provides a real risk to such individuals in that the preservation of their life may not be appropriately prioritized, either by medical professionals or society as a whole.

What was most striking for me about this article was its implicit yet powerful repudiation of the argument that euthanasia is a strictly private, personal matter, and as such should not be a criminal offence. As always, the answer is never so simple. The implementation of legalized euthanasia would require a fundamental reshaping, amongst other things, of society’s conception of justice, the goals of medical care and the inviolability and dignity of the human person. Once such a rethink, already seemingly in process, is normalized, what was once argued to be a private matter will become subject to powerful societal forces. And, as Dr. Janz so eloquently demonstrates, in situations like this it is the already-vulnerable who stand to suffer the most. In a time of legalized euthanasia, there will be countless instances of caregivers, family or medical professionals, motivated by factors ranging from malevolence to a tragically misplaced sense of mercy, who suggest, encourage or implore others to make the decision to end their own life. And for those who are vulnerable, those without a voice, such a cacophony around them will lead many to reluctantly make this decision. Moreover, Dr. Janz points out that in many cases, the doubts, fears and desires to die associated with a disability or terminal condition may only be transient; the delivery of more supportive and compassionate medical care, or a society which prioritizes love and hope over death and expediency, could reinvigorate a person’s desire to live. But if the decision to die is one which is legal and therefore easily implemented, there is no going back; no opportunity to explore what could have been, how much more self-actualization that individual may have been able to achieve. Certainly these potential consequences indicate that legalized euthanasia represents far more than the emancipation of individual choice; it represents a complete rethink of how our society interacts with some of its most vulnerable members.

Our appreciation of the dignity of the human person has taken many massive strides over the centuries of human civilization. Adopting legalized euthanasia would represent a step backwards in this respect, one which would most profoundly impact those who are most in need of society’s protection.

The full article by Dr. Janz can be found at the link below:

http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/10/26/why_im_afraid_of_mp_steven_fletchers_assistedsuicide_bill.html

UTSFL jumped into the school year head first! Since Frosh week, we have been busy planning our year and getting active on campus.

Here are some of the things that we have been up to…

SEPTEMBER IMAGE - st george street festival

Tabling at the UTSU Clubs Fair, St Mike’s Clubs Fair, and St George Street Festival

Bake Sale in support of Aid to Women Centre

Weekly meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays

“Choice” Chain

Speaker’s Series – Club Strategies by National Campus Life Network

Weekly volunteering at Aid to Women Centre

Attending the NCLN Symposium

 

…and here is what we have planned for October…

SEPTEMBER IMAGE - NCLN Symposium

Life Chain

Weekly meetings on Mondays and Tuesdays (apologetics, planning, and social time!)

Weekly volunteering at Aid to Women Centre

Monthly activism

Speaker’s Series – Heart Apologetics by the Sisters of Life

Screening of 99 Balloons

Postering Blitz

 

If any (or all!) of these activities spark your interest or if you want to be more involved with the University of Toronto Students for Life, send us an email or sign up for our mailing list on the side bar. We look forward to standing up for life with you!

Over at Public Discourse, Nathaniel Peters offers a review of Justin Buckley Dyer’s analysis on Slavery, Abortion, and the Politics of Constitutional Meaning. It’s a deep dive into the way that the analogy between slavery and abortion plays out in American public discourse and scholarly debates.

All readers will benefit from Dyer’s account of the ways in which the logic of abortion depended on history to justify Roe v. Wade and subsequent court decisions. As Dyer vividly demonstrates, some of that history was dramatically misused.

For example, on Dred Scott:

Dyer is at his most original and scholarly in his contribution to the debate over substantive due process and abortion. The Fifth Amendment prohibits the federal government from depriving any person of “life, liberty, or property without due process of law.” In Dred Scott, the Supreme Court ruled that a legislative act barring slavery from federal territories “could hardly be dignified with the name due process of law.” In other words, the Court viewed the prohibition of slavery as so patently unjust that, to the justices, it clearly fell outside the scope of the due process of the law. […]

But, Dyer argues, contemporary opponents of Dred Scott criticized the decision for its view of slaves as property, not its substantive view of due process. For them, natural rights to life, liberty, and property provided the substance that could not be violated by the due process of the law. […]

Here, Dyer concludes, we see the real parallel between Dred Scott and Roe: In both cases, “the Court treated biological human status as irrelevant to the question of constitutional personhood while constructing a legal community of constitutional persons that did not necessarily overlap with the population of natural persons.”

If you’re interested in this sort of thing, the review goes into far more detail.

A good take-away:

Abolitionism provides the example for how to fight for a cause: underscore the humanity of those whose humanity is denied, provide compassionate care for those affected, name the lies that dehumanize and kill, and tirelessly argue for the truth about “who counts.”

Sometimes, the most important lessons take the longest to learn.

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Luis Dizon, Education Coordinator with UTSFL, was interviewed on TRUradio [listen from 93:30, interview last ~12 min] a couple weeks back, discussing recent political developments with Niki Ashton and Justin Trudeau.

New Lifestyle Internet Radio with TRUradio on BlogTalkRadio

This couple took a photo a day through 9 months of pregnancy, and put the pictures to music — a song written by the father, Tom Fletcher.

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