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Adoption, Suffering and Love: Reflections of a Powerful Conversation on a Rainy Day

On dreary, rainy days, it can be hard to find the motivation to get out on the streets and engage people on the topic of abortion. When the weather is gloomy and gray, it feels like it casts a shadow on the day, and sets the mood for conversations about an already heavy topic, to also be heavy, and more difficult to “see the light”, as it were. The weather really can have an affect on our moods and motivation.

A few of us managed to brace the weather on one of these days, and I was doing “Choice” Chain in downtown Toronto, and kept seeing the same young man walking past. The third time, I asked him, “What do you think about abortion?” He had an arrogant demeanor, and said my signs were “Disgusting, and ruining local business,” and that “People are trying to go to lunch.”

He then said he agreed with abortion, because fetuses lack consciousness and can’t respond to stimulus until birth, which he thinks is necessary to have the right to life.

We spoke about how fetuses do in fact respond to stimulus in the womb, and can feel pain about halfway through a pregnancy, but newborns don’t even have consciousness in the way he means, and he agreed newborns have the right to life. We discussed other scientific facts about prenatal development, and he admitted he wasn’t aware of anything I told him, or much about the topic at all.

He then said abortion is acceptable because if placed for adoption, the child may grow up in an unloving home. I pointed out to him that there are many approved couples who are waiting to adopt a baby in Canada, but the waitlist is very long. I asked if he knew anybody who has adopted, I wanted to point out that odds are, they adopted a baby from outside of Canada for this very reason. He thought I meant does he know anybody who is adopted. He said his mother was adopted and was really messed up by it, because she grew up in a home without love. At this point the arrogance disappeared in an instant, and he started to cry, and was really shaken. I said, “I am sorry to hear that, and I know that adoption isn’t perfect, and is emotional for everyone involved… can I ask you something?” He wiped his face and shook his head yes. “Do you love your mother?” I asked. “Yes,” he said. “And does she know it?” He paused for a moment. “Yes,” he said. “Then she does have love in her life. And maybe that was the purpose of her enduring a loveless home – to have you, and to finally have love in her life. And you love your mother, and have love in yours. Adoption isn’t perfect, but it means more options, and hope, are possible, with abortion, that’s it.”

He said he himself planned to adopt one day instead of having biological children. I said, “So you see the good in giving someone a chance at life.” He said yes, and that he had to go, with none of the arrogance and hostility that were present at the start of our conversation. I thanked him for talking to me and he walked away.

It is human nature to dwell on the negatives, and sometimes even forget about the positives, so I understand and empathize with this young man for initially seeing only his mother’s suffering as a result of being adopted. It was a powerful and emotional experience for both of us as he came to realize that he himself was the remedy to that suffering.

He may or may not have changed his opinion about abortion following our conversation, I’ll never know. But he definitely had a change of heart, and as my friend Maria says, “Once the heart is changed, the head is the easy part to flip, it is much harder the other way around.” Once a person realizes that even when a person has suffered greatly, that love makes it all worthwhile, they have changed their perspective, and that’s a great start. And that makes a gloomy, gray day, feel all the brighter.

The Streisand Effect and the Abortion Debate

Have you ever heard of the Streisand Effect? The Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective (RRJC) certainly hasn’t. Their attempt to censor the photos we bring to campus of abortion victims only attracts more attention to the injustice of abortion and the inadequacy of the pro-choice position.

The Streisand Effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of attracting even more attention to the information. In 2003, photographer Kenneth Adelman was taking photos of the California coastline, hoping to document coastal erosion. Barabara Streisand got upset that an aerial photograph of her Malibu mansion was published in the collection, so she sued. Before the lawsuit, only six people had downloaded the photo — two of whom were her attorneys. In the month after the lawsuit, the photo was downloaded almost half a million times. Oops.

We see the Streisand Effect all the time in our activism at Ryerson. From Day One, the vocal counterprotests from what has become the RRJC have helped to generate campus media attention and make abortion impossible to ignore at Ryerson. I used to keep track of all media coverage of our activism. After we began activism at Ryerson, it quickly became impossible to keep up. Abortion has gone from a settled issue at Ryerson to one of the most hotly debated topics on campus. This is because we have been running weekly anti-abortion activism, but also thanks to the failed attempts of the RRJC to shut us down and cover up the injustice.

(We’ve seen this at U of T as well, with UTSU’s failed attempt to shut the pro-life message out of the street festival, or with counterprotests at George Brown College.)

The RRJC‘s one move is to try to cover the photos of abortion victims, even ultrasound photos of healthy children. How do you think this looks to passers-by? We hear from Ryerson students all the time, regardless of their views on abortion, who are bothered by the attempts to censor our message and the inability of the RRJC to defend their own position. How could they? The photos are unanswerable. Who will defend doing this to another human being?

Just last week, I heard fellow TAA activist, Brendan, explain to a group of Ryerson students that we were displaying the photos in order to show that decapitating, dismembering and disembowelling a human being is a human rights violation. An RRJC representative nearby, employed by the Ryerson Students’ Union, defended their attempts to cover up our photos. One of the students asked the RRJC representative why they were trying to censor us and block our message instead of responding to us with a message of their own. Another student said that the RRJC does have an implicit message, that people should control their own bodies. I jumped in and agreed, but pointed out that it’s very difficult for the RRJC to make their stance explicit when their stance is that it’s okay to decapitate, dismember and disembowel another human being’s body.

All they can do is cover up the evidence of the bodies being torn apart by abortion. Even ultrasound photos become intolerable.

My Body My Choice vs body of abortion victim

The phrase “my body, my choice” rings hollow next to a photo of another human body brutalized by abortion. Even worse, their sign that says “policing somebody else’s body is violence” looks nothing short of ridiculous next to photographic evidence of the violence that abortion does to the bodies of pre-born children 300 times per day in Canada. From our conversations week by week, it’s clear that many Ryerson students recognize this.

When confronted with the victims of an injustice, it’s been said that we have a choice to be perpetrators, bystanders, or rescuers. Apparently, there’s another choice: we can try to cover it up. That’s not a good look.

Would we rather the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective not try to censor our message? Of course. But their attempt to cover up photos of abortion victims massively backfires against our strategy. Their censorship presents a tactical speed bump. We can leverage their attempted cover up into a win-win situation: if they don’t block us, we reach tons of Ryerson students with the pro-life message; if they do block us, they attract way more attention to the abortion debate than we could ever do alone. Call it the Ryesand Effect? We just keep following up, week by week, reaching more students, making abortion impossible to ignore and changing hearts and minds, one conversation and one photo at a time.

Respecting the Bodily Autonomy of Every Human Being

The Canadian Federation of Students has a pamphlet that members of the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective have started handing out at Ryerson.

CONSENT IS MANDATORY

CONSENT IS RESPECTING BODILY AUTONOMY

RESPECTING BODILY AUTONOMY IS SUPPORTING REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE

The inside says that reproductive justice includes the ability to “terminate a pregnancy.”

Consent is mandatory? Consent is respecting bodily autonomy? No objection here.

Respecting bodily autonomy is supporting reproductive justice? Reproductive justice includes the ability to terminate a pregnancy? What about the bodily autonomy of the child?

This is why we show photo evidence of the violence that abortion does to the bodies of pre-born children. Abortion is an act of violence that destroys the body of an innocent human being.

And this is why the Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective attempts to cover up the injustice. Once you see the second body that has been destroyed by an abortion, the view that respecting bodily autonomy includes the ability to terminate a pregnancy is obviously false.

Yes, we have a right to control our own bodies. Does that include a right to assault somebody else? Our right to control our own body ends at someone else’s body. A right to bodily autonomy does not include a right to assault somebody else.

We see related slogans at Ryerson and George Brown College, like “Mind your own *^$%ing body” and “Policing someone else’s body is violence,” which also ring hollow next to the photos they’re trying to cover up of children’s bodies destroyed by abortion. Isn’t decapitating, dismembering and disembowelling someone else’s body violence?

No wonder they don’t want anyone to see the photos.

2017 Executive Openings: Ryerson Team of TAA

New Executive Roles at Ryerson University

Our team at Ryerson is expanding to include three new executive roles (Assistant Team Leader, Outreach Coordinator, and Communications Coordinator). We’re looking for committed students and community members to help out in different areas of activism and team building. Are you passionate about human rights, and interested in getting involved with the pro-life community?  Your courage, compassion, and conviction could make a huge difference on the Ryerson Campus this year as we continue to defend pre-born children.
If you would like to find out more about the Ryerson Team of Toronto Against Abortion, please contact Talia (ryerson@torontoagainstabortion.org)

Openings: January 2017

Assistant Team Leader
  • Organize weekly activism, and connect with Speakers and Pro-life organizations as needed.
  • Implement strategies to most effectively make abortion unthinkable within the Ryerson community.
  • Coordinate with other Executive Team Members, and foster team development.
    Outreach Coordinator
  • Connect and form relationships with other pro-life clubs on campus
  • Help plan and coordinate larger outreach events, such as debates and special speakers
  • Use social media and our blog to reach more people with the truth about abortion.
Communications Coordinator
  • Help plan and facilitate weekly meetings.
  • Reach out to new team members and sign-ups
  • Communicate with team members about team activities, such as weekly meetings and activism.
  • Record Minutes during Executive and General Meetings.
If you’d like to find out more information about, or apply for, any of these roles, email ryerson@torontoagainstabortion.org

Take A Stand–A Volunteer’s Story

On December Thursday 8th, 15 courageous volunteers for the Ryerson Team of Toronto Against Abortion gave of their time to be a voice for pre-born children. Passersby questioned why we’d chose to spend over an hour outside, talking to strangers, on one of the coldest days of the year. This is the testimony from one of our volunteers,  on how taking a stand for truth can change hearts and minds:
“I was not new to the cause, or uninformed. My daughter, Talia is the Team Leader for the Ryerson team of TAA. We had heard the stories, good and bad.
But still, I was not prepared. I was not prepared for the camaraderie of the group. All ages, various backgrounds, but genuinely joined for a cause that takes precedence. A cause that takes precedence over comfort–it was freezing! And a cause that takes you out of your comfort zone.  It’s not easy being the sign bearer that others cross the street to avoid. Or to directly be singled out with a verbal barrage.
I was certainly not prepared for the blessing it was. For the heart-lift when someone gave a thumbs up. For the inner warmth at the whisper from a passerby, I’m with you.
I wasn’t prepared for the conversation with the young woman who wanted a pamphlet because she was “pro-choice” too.  After talking about simple facts of the life cycle of an pre-born child, she realized, “oh, maybe its not okay to end that life.”
Seeing a picture of the remains of a pre-born child killed before birth allowed us to talk about the atrocity of a life cut short. We agreed, despite our differences of viewpoint and conviction that, if the picture was true, something was very wrong with a society that allowed and even encouraged this expression of choice. Before we parted ways, she asked me, “How do I volunteer? This is wrong.”
Choice chain? Not for the faint of heart…but, don’t miss it. Don’t wait until you take an apologetics class or study about how to state your case. Just, volunteer.  Be there. Be present. Hold a sign.
If you don’t know the answers, someone in the group does. You just have to start others thinking about their own questions. Is that really what it looks like? Is that what happens in an abortion…. Is that really okay?
Take a stand, get involved. Take that small step and make a difference…. Saving one life is more than enough reason.”
-Teresa
Email ryerson@torontoagainstabortion.org  to find out how you can be a voice for preborn children  at the Ryerson Campus.