Pro-life protesters displaying graphic images of abortion at the university and college this week have upset students.
An anti-abortion rally was held Wednesday at the Okanagan College campus. Students set up their own rally beside it, arguing for pro-choice.
Okanagan College students Xenon Tyner and Hannah Stanley say they stand at the opposite side, with a pro-choice sign reading “mind your own uterus,” because they want to show both sides of the issue.
“In the past, they’ve had an emotional impact on people,” said Tyner. “We wanted to be here to show people who are affected by their messages that we’re here to hear their voices as well.”
Stanley said she wanted to create a safe space for students.
The graphic pro-life images depict various stages of bloody fetuses.
The choice should be left to the individual, said Stanley, “and on a practical level, if you outlaw abortion, people will still have them in an unsafe way. So the message that they’re pushing on people is not going to help in any way.”
Students have been harassed by the pro-life protestors in the past, said Stanley, adding the pro-life rally isn’t appropriate to have on campus as a few students approached them in tears.
The decision was made to protest at UBCO and the college using the graphics because the age group is most likely to get abortions and students are still forming their beliefs, said spokesperson for the Kelowna Right to Life Society Marlon Bartram.
The society refrains from the graphic displays at public intersections because of children in public settings, he said, but will display them at the colleges and universities because it’s unlikely they will encounter children.
Bartram said the images used are not propaganda because they’re truthful images and the images are from actual abortions.
He believes the right to life trumps all other rights.
Phil Ashman, Central Okanagan regional dean, at Okanagan College said the college abides by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in allowing the protest to go on.
“It’s not really that the college believes one way or another, it’s that anyone who wants to share their opinion on something is able to,” he said.
As long as a safe space is provided for students and they are able to get to classes unobstructed, are guiding principles for the college, said Ashman.
The pro-life protestors have been on the college campus once before, and say they will try and rally at the college and university once a semester.
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