ATTN: Debate Opponent Wanted to defend women’s rights.

McMaster Lifeline is currently seeking a speaker willing to step forward and defend the position that abortion is a woman’s right in a formal debate for the McMaster campus. The opponent who had been confirmed with us for over 2 months (in the beginning of January) backed out last Monday because of the “great discomfort at the possibility of being recorded and posted on to the internet,” even though we agreed to absolutely NOT film the debate after requesting her permission. Apparently, she was only ever interested in “a small gathering of students in a more intimate setting” when our initial invitation and follow-up clearly indicated “We are currently planning a professional debate for this term, which will explore the issue of abortion.”

In truth, her concerns about participating in this debate were voiced in an email only after she looked up the speaker representing the pro-life position, Stephanie Gray from CCBR: “I did not investigate your speaker from the pro-life position until the request for permission to record the debate” (which was on February 24th, although she had originally confirmed her participation in the debate on January 5th). “I watched the recordings on this organizations website classroom information, and I watched the YouTube postings. I found considerable cause for caution that further lead me to engaging in discussion with my women professional colleagues and seek their feedback.”

You can watch those very recordings of CCBR’s “website classroom information” here: Pro-Life Classroom | Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform.

If you ask me, the “considerable cause for caution” is that the arguments put forward by Stephanie Gray, arguing that abortion is a human violation, are absolutely impossible to refute.  The opponent’s interests in accepting the debate rested “solely in [her] interest to help students have a meeting where they are engaged in topical discourse” and her interest in discussing the topic of abortion was in “the legislative right of all patients to be engaged in informed choice leading to informed consent, and in this case as it pertains to the decisions leading to the right to have an abortion.” 

But for someone who is interested “in supporting students in appropriate sharing of discourse, inquiry, exchange of ideas,” as she elsewhere stated, and in “the importance of providing female patients with the right to informed choices,” why back out of the perfect platform from which to defend a woman’s right to abortion, which can contribute to the exchange of ideas we wish to see among students on this topic?

Perhaps it’s because, after looking at her opponent’s arguments, her own seemed no match in comparison? You be the judge. We’re still looking for a speaker willing to step up and argue against the position that abortion is a human violation.   If you know of any colleagues or individuals willing to do so, please contact me, as we have invested a lot of planning and funding in making this forum for students possible, and do not want to have to cancel due to lack of opponent.

After all, can a formal debate on the topic of abortion to engage students in an intellectually stimulating way, through reasonable and open discussion rather than emotional appeal, not be had on a university campus? We want the debate.

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