As I lugged Lily’s carseat toward the Jeep last night, I thought, “I don’t know what to expect.” I’d never been to an event like this before. I knew it would be controversial; I knew there would probably be some angry people there; but otherwise, I wasn’t quite sure what would happen.
It was 7:30 on the dot when we pulled our Jeep into the parking lot. As we walked up, a couple of students asked, “Are you going to the presentation?” and handed us some pieces of paper. At first, I thought it was a program for the presentation. Then, as I glanced at the flyers quickly, I realized that they were protesting the presentation. I scowled. Couldn’t I even to go such a presentation without being accosted outside?
We slid into a row at the back just as the main speaker, Jojo Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, was introduced. The large lecture hall was full as he gave his presentation on “Echoes of the Holocaust,” comparing abortion to other forms of genocide. He defined genocide as “the deliberate and systematic destruction in whole or in part of an ethnic, racial, religious, national, or other group.” He then presented four characteristics of past genocides (the Holocaust, the Cambodian genocide, even the African/American slave trade) and showed how abortion is similar to these.
The crowd was silent during the talk, not even responding when Jojo asked a mundane question like, “Who’s seen CSI?” When Jojo concluded, there was a smattering of polite applause. Then the questions began. The first couple were polite. After that, they became more angry. Accusatory. The crowd gave resounding applause for several of the questions. People began interrupting Jojo as he tried to answer questions, or arguing with him when he did answer. Jojo remained calm, respectful.
I was saddened by some of the questions
One woman asked Jojo what he was personally doing to help women facing unplanned pregnancies. When he tried to tell her that his job was to educate and that others were available to help women in those circumstances, she just kept yelling her question at him.
Towards the end of the questions, Sunshine got restless, wandering down the first few steps at the back of the lecture hall or playing around the door. I finally took her out, almost glad for the excuse to escape the tense atmosphere. I felt attacked, because I had thought Jojo’s presentation well-researched and well-presented, and these people were now attacking him.
As we stood outside, a TV cameraman interviewed a student who said that she’d be complaining to the university about her student dollars being used to fund presentations like this. I thought, “Yeah, well, my student dollars fund things that you support and I’m not in favour of, so maybe I need to start complaining too.”
As we drove away from there, I wanted to weep. To weep for the women who find themselves in circumstances that they feel abortion is their only option. To weep for our society, which keeps lying to them about their options. To weep for the children, who dying by the millions.