Abortion conference fans debate

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Organizers intent on adding pressure to make government change its mind

There were some raised eyebrows when it was first announced that Charlottetown would host Canada’s first-ever international abortion and reproductive justice conference. After all, this is the only province where abortions are “officially” not performed. Women must go to Halifax after getting medical support from two doctors, where the province will pay for the cost of the procedure. The private Morgentaler clinic is Fredericton, N.B., had offered another option, but it closed in July.

Obviously, it is the intent of organizers to direct national and international attention on restrictions impacting Island women as the lobby continues for the province to change its mind and offer abortions here. They could easily be provided at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown and Prince County in Summerside.

Anyone reading this newspaper in recent months is well aware of the heated debate raging on the editorial and opinion pages on the abortion issue. The province is holding firm and so far has refused to budge from the status quo.

The theme of the conference serves notice that the debate is far from over. ‘Abortion: The Unfinished Revolution International Conference’ takes place Aug. 7 and 8 at the University of Prince Edward Island. This province is clearly the target of a powerful pro-choice lobby.

Just as vocal and with a majority opinion on its side — based on the number of letters and op ed pieces— is the pro-life side. In various churches across the province this past Sunday, the call to action was issued — through prayer, peaceful opposition to the conference, and to maintain pressure on the province not to relent.

Apart from the province hosting an abortion conference, it was also surprising to see it hosted at UPEI, a heavily taxpayer-subsidized public institution. One would have thought that a more “neutral” facility would have been selected. The university prides itself as a haven for free speech and thoughtful argument, and is reluctant to interfere with professors’ academic freedoms. But it could easily be argued that the abortion issue is well beyond the realm of academia and enters into legal and deeply moral issues. It remains to be seen if the university pays a price for hosting this conference.

Music, oysters mix well

There was a fair degree of skepticism when the Tyne Valley Oyster Festival joined with P.E.I. 2014 Inc. to announce a special attraction for the 50th edition of the shellfish-themed summer party in West Prince. The Rock the Boat Music Festival caused some people to shrug their shoulders and wonder who was going to drive to the Tyne Valley area. Well, it turns out that approximately 5,000 avid music fans did just that. It certainly helped there was a stellar lineup headlined by Blue Rodeo, Alan Doyle and Jimmy Rankin. And when you add the local excitement of oyster shucking and successful events already associated with the festival, the ingredients were there to produce the sleeper entertainment hit of the season. You combine perfect weather, superb entertainers and an energized crowd, and it makes for a can’t-miss combination. The concert was so successful at Green Park that organizers are eagerly looking forward to a second edition next year. Local volunteers got behind the event, determined to make it a success and show the rest of the province and naysayers that things can get done properly in West Prince. Kudos are warranted for P.E.I. 2014 Inc. who did take a gamble with monetary support for the festival, further validating its decision to spread 150th anniversary celebrations around the province instead of concentrating events in Charlottetown.

Organizations: University of Prince Edward Island, Queen Elizabeth Hospital

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Canada, Halifax Fredericton Prince Tyne Valley West Prince Green Park

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Recent comments

  • Russell Crawford
    August 08, 2014 - 21:44

    Abortion should be legal, everywhere. The impact of abortion is controlled by scientific fact and law. For example each person has a choice. They may choose to save one of the 1.8 born babies, children and adults that are dying each second or they may choose to let those babies die and save a fetus instead. Pro lifers generally choose to let the babies die and attempt to save fetuses. The pro life movement has been wrong on several points. For example the idea that life at conception is proved is shown to be a fallacy. The position of the pro life movement is that because a child was once a zygote, all zygotes will be children and therefore should have the same rights as a child. But that is a retrospective view of a prospective problem. While retrospectively all babies were in fact zygotes, not all zygotes will become babies. In fact 70 percent of zygotes do not live past the first trimester. Tack on to that the fact that until the DNA of the genotype expresses the correct phenotype, there is no human life. And one can see that the zygote is not a "child" but simply a stage of life. What we are learning about abortion is that it leads to more life, not less. The fact is that before Roe there was a decrease in births and after Roe there was an increase in births. What has happened is that with abortion there is more life than without abortion. For all these reasons, in the near future everyone will be "pro choice" and very few people will admit that they ever were "pro life."

  • Constance
    August 06, 2014 - 15:40

    Why would the university pay a price for doing and presenting nationally and internationally funded research? And why does the editorial writer suggest that universities are not the place to engage in discussions about morality and law? Most universities have faculties of philosophy, and many have faculties of law. Seems that a university would be a good place for a discussion of those issues--certainly better than the opinion page of this community newspaper.

    • nitpicker
      August 06, 2014 - 17:32

      Good post. A university is an ideal place for an educated discussion. The fact that it is publicly funded means it should shy away from controversial topics? I don't think so.

  • Not surprized
    August 06, 2014 - 14:04

    The Guardian - spreading ignorance like the dew. Does it really have so little understanding of the academic world, or is it just resentful that the university can't be bullied and intimidated like this newspaper and the rest of this province.

  • Kenny B.
    August 06, 2014 - 14:02

    So you think universities should cater to the agenda of religious zealots who are happy to see your province flout the law of Canada? That's a bold position. Good luck with that!

  • LOL
    August 06, 2014 - 13:47

    There's nothing like demonstrating to everyone that you have no idea what you're talking about. Congratulations Guardian, you've done it again. You make yourselves and this province look like a joke.

  • Andrew
    August 06, 2014 - 13:14

    This editorial is ridiculous. Whoever wrote it seems to have no understanding of universities, what they do, why they exist, or academia generally, and the thinly veiled little threat at the end sounds juvenile. And churches, trying to dictate political policy? Seriously? What century are you people living in? International attention is exactly what this province needs, for a lot of reasons.

    • Elle Joraco
      August 06, 2014 - 14:02

      Agreed! The University holds dozens of conferences throughout the year. Also several of the delegates at this conference are University students presenting their honours research, and many of the other delegates are from Universities around the world. (so it can't "easily be argued that the abortion issue is well beyond the realm of academia" when you have students and professors from around the world attending to present their research ).

    • Upperdunker
      August 07, 2014 - 08:13

      It's good to see UPEI hosting this conference with experts delivering research papers and discussing forward thinking on the topic. Hopefully, some of PEI's not so bright Liberals will pay attention.