Pro-Life Group at Canada’s Carleton University Pressured to OK Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 17, 2010   |   1:13PM   |   Washington, DC

The student government at Carleton University in Canada has no problem with allowing a pro-life student group on campus — so long as the organization affirms women have a so-called right to an abortion.

Carleton Lifeline, the pro-life club at Carleton University has been threatened by the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) with losing its club status because its constitution affirms its opposition to abortion.

 “Carleton Lifeline believes in the equal rights of the unborn and firmly believes that abortion is a moral and legal wrong, not a constitutional right,” the group’s constitution says. “Therefore, Carleton lifeline shall work to promote the legal protection of the unborn and their basic human rights to life.”

Not happy with that language, the CUSA says the club has until tomorrow to alter its charter. CUSA claims the constitution violates the campus discrimination policies that call for “respect and affirm a woman’s right to choose her options in case of pregnancy.”

The letter says: “We invite you to amend your constitution to create one that respects our anti-discrimination policy as laid out above. If you are able to resubmit a constitution that meets our criteria by Thursday, November 18th we will be able to certify your club for this semester.”

It maintains CUSA regulations say no officially-recognized student group can use resources from the student government for “actions such as any campaign, distribution, solicitation, lobbying, effort, display, event etc. that seeks to limit or remove a woman’s right to choose.”

Ruth Lobo, president of Carleton Lifeline told the National Post, “It is ironic that they support choice and do not see that  not having an abortion is a choice.”

In comments received, she added: “There are two major issues at hand here. First, is that we are being discriminated against because of our political and ideological values.”

“Second, CUSA has taken our club status away in a way that has violated their own procedural policies regarding re-certification and decertification. We have been a club for 3 years, so why now?” she continued.

Albertos Polizogopoulos, the attorney for the pro-life campus group, told the newspaper the letter from the student government “was appalling” because it violates the rights to free speech and association of the members of the club. He confirmed the pro-life group is considering legal action.

Polizogopoulos maintains that CUSA pointing out that their Discrimination on Campus Policy is in violation of CUSA’s own constitution and in violation of a number of Carleton University policies. He also pointed out that the manner in which CUSA denied Carleton Lifeline certification was not in line with CUSA’s own policies and procedures.

“Our constitution has not changed since our club was first certified in 2007,” said James Shaw, vice-president of Carleton Lifeline. “We have always received funding and status whenever we applied, and were always re-certified as a club from year to year.”

Shaw adds that even if other students disagree with their views, a student’s association must respect the diversity of opinion within their own membership.

The letter has drawn the attention of pro-life advocates in the United States as Kristan Hawkins of Students for Life of America told she is disappointed to hear about the CUSA’s intimidation tactics.

“I am shocked to hear this news coming from Carleton University,” she said. “I find it ironic that the University’s Student Union is trying to silence pro-lifers while at the at the same time trying to uphold an anti-discrimination policy. The Carleton Student Union is discriminating against pro-life students, period.” [related]

“Pro-life students in America and around the world stand in solidarity with the Carleton pro-life students today,” she said.

The attempt to disband the pro-ifeclub comes on the heels of the arrest of several Carleton Lifeline club members’ arrest last month when they attempted to set up a pro-life exhibit on campus.