McGill Pro-Life Presentation Shut Down by Protesters - Two Arrested
By Patrick B. Craine
MONTREAL, Quebec, October 7, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A controversial pro-life presentation hosted by McGill University's pro-life club Choose Life was chanted down by protesters last night. Police were called to the scene and, after repeated requests for civility, two were arrested.
The talk, entitled 'Echoes of the Holocaust' was given by Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform. The talk draws a parallel between past atrocities, such as the Holocaust, and abortion.
Prior to the event, the Student Society of McGill University (SSMU) passed a motion by a vote of 25-2-2 to censure the event and 'demand' that the university administration intervene to cancel it. The society, further, resolved that if Choose Life chose to continue with the event, the group would be ineligible for funding for the remainder of its existence.
Deputy Provost (Student Life and Learning) Morton Mendelson stated that he would not cancel the event, however, asserting the group's right to debate the issue.
As Ruba began his presentation, about 20 students, including members of SSMU, began protesting, chanting, and singing children's songs such as Old MacDonald and the hokey pokey. They bombarded the stage, blocked the screen, and one protester even grabbed at Ruba's written materials, before being stopped by campus security.
The police arrived and eventually warned the protesters that they would be taken away by force if they did not get off the stage. Two resisted and were arrested, while others joined the audience and continued to heckle Ruba after police had left, until the designated time had run out and Choose Life ended the event.
Ruba told LifeSiteNews that he was able to present about half an hour of his presentation, but there was no moment where he was able to speak clearly.
Elise Eisenkraft Klein, one of the arrested protesters, told the McGill Tribune that she objected to the comparison between abortion and the Holocaust. "Normally I would defend [Choose Life]'s right to exist on campus, personally, I'm not speaking for any group," she said. "However, as a human being, but also as a Jew, I would say that this kind of comparison is not acceptable. By this ridiculous claim of trying to 'humanize' foetuses in order to further their cause, they are dehumanizing Jews."
Calling the protesters "extremists," Ruba insisted that they were by no means pro-choice but, in fact, pro-abortion. At the end, he was approached by pro-choice students who regretted not being able to hear the full talk. He said these students were "prevented from choosing to hear the presentation by so-called 'pro-choice' activists who really are pro-abortion because they don't want discussion to happen."
One of the protesters, he said, stayed to hear the presentation and, at the end, told Ruba that he understood where he was going with it, and wished that he could have heard the rest.
Choose Life Founder and President Natalie Fohl told the McGill Tribune that she hopes to reschedule. "It's really unfortunate that we couldn't have respectful dialogue," she said. "That's the moral of the story. Hopefully we'll be able to reschedule."
The presentation at McGill was the last stop on a tour Ruba had made, offering various presentations at universities. He said he had given the same talk at McMaster University and Queen's University without incident.
The talk received a similar reaction at St. Mary's University in Halifax last year, where pro-abortion advocates shouted him down. In that situation, however, it was the university who eventually cancelled the talk, and he was forced to continue at a nearby church.
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