Providing Options In the Face of Anti-Choice Activity On Campus
What are your rights as a student? As a person?
At UofT St. George, these questions have become as much a part of Orientation as its advertised programming. This year’s Week of Welcome was the second in a row during which anti-choice activity disrupted numerous events, such as the annual Clubs Carnival, the tri-campus parade and the following week’s Street Festival.
It’s an unfortunate reality that many students have come to expect on campus, and this is what spurred Students For Choice (SFC-UofT) to mobilize over the summer. After confirming a return of graphic imagery throughout the first week of Orientation, SFC-UofT planned a counter-demonstration: organizers and passers-by distributed over two hundred fliers, obscured banners and signs, and engaged concerned community members for as long as anti-choice activity stretched on that day. Since then, numerous students have approached us about getting involved so that they can learn how to handle anti-choicers on campus.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has noted that the primary tactic of anti-choice groups is to stigmatize reproductive rights and the exercising of them, often through the spreading of misinformation, and often by using extremely triggering imagery. The strategic propaganda of anti-choice organizations on campus is false and misogynistic. They perpetuate a toxic atmosphere for those who have the right to exercise control over their bodies, and their actions need to stop. Driven by personal and religious stances, groups like Students For Life deny the validity of differing perspectives on when ‘life’ begins, opting instead to insist that this coincides with conception and that abortion at any stage of a pregnancy equates to murder.
What is Students For Choice-UofT?
As part of the broader pro-choice movement we seek to protect the right to reproductive self-determination. Members of SFC-UofT believe that every person should be able to access the social, material, legal and political supports necessary for making informed decisions about their own body and health, which includes the decision to have or to not have an abortion. This is why our current primary goal is to help organize counter-protests for as long as abortion stigma is perpetuated in our community. Moving forward, we want to contribute to the creation of a pro-choice network both online and offline that can effectively share resources and help others quickly counter or avoid anti-choice activity. Other points in our emerging mandate include prioritizing intersectional, inclusive and self-critical politics; building relationships between like-minded organizations; and lobbying entities within the University to hold anti-choice student groups more accountable.
For Visuals: Students For Choice activists cover a graphic sign that claims to show an aborted fetus at 10 weeks, University of Toronto’s annual Street Festival.
Photo Credit: Students for Choice-UofT