Laurier LifeLink’s Pro-Life display sparks Pro-Choice protest

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Photo by Safina Husein

 

On Oct. 24 and 25, Laurier LifeLink held their annual Pro-Life chalking display on public sidewalks in front of the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics main entrance and in front of the main entrance to the University. 

Laurier LifeLink is a non-sectarian pro-life club dedicated to bringing awareness to core human rights issues such as abortion, and also bringing awareness to local pregnancy resources.  

The display included various Pro-Life facts, slogans and affirmations which were written onto the sidewalk. 

Jonah Vanleeuwen, vice-president of Laurier LifeLink, said that the main goal of the chalk display was to raise awareness in regards to abortion. 

“From my experience I’ve found that a lot of people we talk to don’t know about all the facts or statistics around abortion,” he said. 

“The thing I want to get out of it is to have conversations with people who just had no idea about any of the facts about abortion or the laws that are in Canada against abortion and those kinds of things … that’s a great benefit,” he said. 

The evening prior to the event, on Oct. 24, Laurier’s Students’ Union posted about the event on their Facebook page, informing students about the demonstration.  

“Should you choose to avoid the displays, it is suggested that you take an alternative route/entrance to these locations. Signage will be provided to assist in identifying the locations of these displays,” the post read. 

“Not to deface, not to destruct, but rather to simply add a different perspective so that students know that if they’re experiencing these issues they have another group of people to talk to.”  

The Students’ Union also posted various resources for students who required resources during and after the event, such as the Diversity and Equity Office, Laurier’s Student Wellness Centre, amongst others.  

Ensuing the Students’ Union post informing students of the upcoming event the next morning, students in opposition to the Pro-Life display began to create plans for a peaceful protest. 

The protest consisted of a group of students who voiced their opinions by writing Pro-Choice statements on the same sidewalk to contrast views. 

“No one wants to have an abortion, it’s not something pleasant – we know that. But people have the right to choose. And it’s important that we’re out here and that we make sure that people have gone through this know that they have support and that it’s okay,” Sara Ashtiani, fifth year biology and psychology student at Laurier, said. 

The group of students also stood with signs outside the main entrance of Laurier on University Avenue and Hazel Street. 

“What’s making me glow inside this morning is that we can have this dialogue … It’s a completely respectful interchange of that dialogue which is awesome, I think it says a lot about the school. And so far we’re getting a lot of support from the community,” Eden Hennessey, PhD student in psychology at Laurier, said. 

“We feel that our views are supported we feel supported as women and as advocates for reproductive rights, we feel like we’re doing our piece.”  

Vanleeuwen said, however, that LifeLink welcomes the peaceful protestors and appreciates their perspective. 

“It’s a very sensitive subject. It’s really important that we try and cater to that so we’re not offending anyone. The last thing we want to do is shame women or harm women or any of those kinds of things,” Vanleeuwen said. 

In order to ensure that the statements written would avoid harm to other students, Laurier LifeLink met with the Students’ Union. 

“We made sure all of our facts and slogans were worded in order to reduce harm and we’ve done all that,” Vanleeuwen said. 

Members of Laurier LifeLink were also posted outside during the event. The purpose of the postings, said Vanleeuwen, was to ensure that students are aware of the reasoning behind the display. 

“It’s important for Laurier students to be aware that there is a diversity of opinions around reproductive issues — so that’s really why we’re here,” Hennessy said.   

“Not to deface, not to destruct, but rather to simply add a different perspective so that students know that if they’re experiencing these issues they have another group of people to talk to.”  

In response to the event, Kanwar Brar, president of Students’ Union released a statement regarding the conflicting views on campus: 

“While the Students’ Union may not agree with Laurier LifeLink’s stance, we support their right to express it. That being said, we feel this does not give us the grounds to shut down a club or a person if they are engaging in a civil conversation. More so, it sets the precedent that we can shut down other clubs or members who want to have a conversation regarding conflicting views in a courteous manner, if we don’t agree with them,” the statement read.  

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