York abortion debate brings in a full house; Earlier dispute and cancellation of event likely attracted more people, university official saysBy Paul MOLONEY, The Toronto Star, 2008-03-19
Controversy over cancelling an abortion debate at York University probably boosted the turnout at last night’s re-scheduled event. Organizers had put up posters on the campus but were keeping their fingers crossed that more people than just the 50 active members of Students for Bioethical Awareness would show up. In the end, about 130 people attended the 90-minute debate at Curtis Lecture Hall E, a space supplied by the university after student leaders cancelled a Feb. 28 debate at York’s student centre. “I’m just very grateful that the university allowed us to do this,” said Margaret Fung, co-president of Students for Bioethical Awareness. The debate, which focused on when life begins and included graphic images shown on a large screen, pitted Jose Ruba, of the Canadian Centre for Bio- Ethical Reform, against Michael Payton, a member of a student group at York called Freethinkers, Skeptics and Atheists. Judging by the applause, most audience support went to Ruba, who argued abortion is wrong. Dominika Dworzanska, 22, a second-year psychology student, said the controversy over the earlier cancellation played a part in her decision to attend. “I think both sides should have freedom of speech,” she said. “Everybody needs to hear a different perspective.” Dworzanska said she wasn’t surprised the event featured no shouting or hollering, or clashes of any kind among the audience. “York does encourage people to voice their opinion,” she said. “We have a multicultural university so everybody has to respect everybody else.” A vice-chair of the student centre that cancelled the earlier date had said “there is no need for an event, organized by anti-choice[pro-life] campaigners, that is disguised as a debate.” The university, in deciding to put up the lecture hall for the debate, doesn’t share that view, said spokesperson Richard Fisher. “Any debate that is legal and protected by free speech needs to occur,” Fisher said. “If it can’t happen at a … liberal arts university, where can it happen?” Fisher said the number of students, who came close to filling the lecture hall, spoke volumes about the earlier decision to cancel. “I think the biggest publicity they could have given to this debate was to ban it.”
It’s pretty pathetic that the adults at York University had to lift the muzzle imposed by the pro-abort student muzzlers. Kind of gives you a whole new conception of what it means to be “progressive” in Canada these days.
It’s pretty similar to “Democratic” in German Democratic Republic when it was still East Germany, then still a Communist State.