Thursday, March 06, 2008

Canada: York University blocks abortion debate between pro-abortion atheist and pro-life worker has a follow-up to this earlier post on the abortion debate cancellation:

An abortion debate was shut down on February 28 by a student federation at York University on the premiss that abortion is a non-debatable right.

The York University Student Centre cancelled the debate, entitled "Abortion Debate: A Woman's Right or a Moral Wrong?" a mere two hours before it started. As a result, dozens of students were turned away at the door. The debate was to have been between pro-abortion atheist Michael Payton from Freethinkers, Skeptics and Atheists at York, and Jojo Ruba of Calgary's pro-life Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform. It was intended to be a balanced debate on abortion, moderated by the York Debating Society.

"We would not have a debate over something that is racist or homophobic," said Gilary Massa, vice-president equity of the York Federation of Students. "This debate is sexist … when it comes to free speech there is a line. … They are talking about taking away women's rights. We would not allow a debate asking if women beating should be allowed.". . .

"The Student Centre has made sure that anyone with different views than theirs can't express themselves, even if both points of view are represented," said [Margaret] Fung, [President of Students for Bioethical Awareness, an official York University club and co-sponsor of the debate]. "They don't seem to understand that we live in a free, democratic society. A university is supposed to be a marketplace of ideas not a propaganda machine for political extremists."

Robert J. Tiffin, vice-president of students, emphasized in his letter to the National Post that the cancellation of the debate was done without the knowledge or consent of York University, but was rather done by students who ran the Student Centre.

"A debate on the subject of abortion was cancelled at York University by the student executive of the Student Centre, without the knowledge or participation of the university," he wrote. "York encourages civic participation and open debate on issues of local, national and international importance. The fact that both sides of the debate wanted to proceed and were prevented from doing so makes the incident all the more regrettable."

The National Post has reported that the York University administration is currently working on a compromise that will allow for students to use some on-campus venue where such a debate can happen in the future. . .

Read it all.
H/t to SoCon or Bust.


Anonymous said...

The debate will be redone today, Tuesday:

Event: Abortion - A Woman's Right or a Moral Wrong?
Day and Time: Tuesday, March 18th at 5:30-7:00pm
Location: Curtis Lecture Hall E, Keele Campus at York University; the
building is by Scott Library (on the right
hand side, find Curtis Lecture Hall)

Pro-Life: Jose Ruba from Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform
Pro-Choice: Michael Payton from Freethinkers, Skeptics and Atheists Group
at York
Moderator: TBA

Anne Coletta said...

I checked the York University website and there is no mention of the debate for Tuesday, March 18. Do you know, Anon, if this actually took place? I can't find any reference to it. Thanks.

Jose Ruba said...

Here's the news article from the Toronto Star about the debate:

Michael was a good debater but he wasn't able to answer the main question in the debate: what is the unborn. He spent a lot of time attacking me and accusing me of falsifying our images, something he had no evidence to prove.

However, he proved how extreme his position was when he admitted that personhood likely begins at 28 weeks but that abortion should remain legal for all nine months of pregnancy. Therefore, abortion kills persons but that should remain legal. It's too bad Michael spent so much time attacking me personally and our moderator. Even his side said he sounded angry.

The best thing about this debate was that pro-life students were encouraged in their beliefs and those not pro-life were encouraged to deal with the facts of the issue. Even papers like the Star defended our right to speak.

Jose Ruba