Anti-choice activity seems to have been springing up at Canadian schools and campuses from coast to coast in recent months. Pro-choice students and youth, however, have responded passionately and strategically.
Earlier this year in May, at the University of Ottawa, Medical Students for Choice (MSFC) came under fire when the Faculty of Medicine and the Medical Students’ Society decided to revoke MSFC’s status as a student group. Their stated reasoning was that MSFC was too “unipolar”. The result of this revocation of official group status was that MSFC was neither permitted to hold educational events on the medical school campus, nor eligible to receive funds to cover its activities, making the University of Ottawa the only Anglophone medical school in Canada without a recognized MSFC chapter. Fortunately, however, following a slew of letters from outraged students and pro-choice community members, it appears as though the Medical Students’ Society will decide to re-instate MSFC to carry out their mandate of addressing barriers surrounding access to the complete range of reproductive healthcare choices (including abortion) through the education and training of medical students and residents.
Also in Ottawa, in August a judge struck down all but one of the claims in a lawsuit filed against Carleton University by two anti-choice students. The students, who are part of a club called Lifeline, alleged that the university discriminated against them when administrators asked that their Genocide Awareness Project display be held inside, rather than in an open part of campus. Ontario Superior Court Justice Giovanna Toscano Roccamo allowed the allegation of wrongful arrest to remain in the lawsuit but dismissed claims that Carleton has breached their fiduciary duty and violated their Charter rights.
More recently, pro-choice communities have been very active in responding to 40 Days for Life events across Canada. While there have been disturbing instances of some principals and teachers at various Catholic schools across the country encouraging students to attend the “vigils” during school hours, counter-protests and creative resistance has been plentiful. In Montreal, Concordia students organized a series of pro-choice picnics and rallies to show their support for the Morgentaler clinic being targeted. Pro-choice activists in New Brunswick started a Sexual and Reproductive Health Awareness Campaign to raise awareness about the inaccessibility of abortion in New Brunswick and recent changes to Provincial Sexual Health Clinics (such as lowering the cutoff-age and the reduction of operating hours). Youth in Victoria have organized an event called “Rock for Reproductive Justice” with speakers (including ARCC’s own Joyce Arthur!), music and creative activism.
It has been an exciting time for pro-choice students and youth and we are sure to see more to come.