University of Victoria Abortion Debate Overflows Capacity



October 23, 2009

By Patrick B. Craine, VICTORIA, British Columbia, October 22, 2009 ( – The University of Victoria`s (UVic) pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth, hosted a wildly popular debate on abortion at the campus yesterday, which generated so much interest that the presenters offered a second such event to accommodate those students who were barred from the first due to fire regulations. Stephanie Gray from the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR) debated against UVic philosophy professor and bioethicist Dr. Eike-Henner Kluge.

“I thought it went very well,” said Gray. She says the 200-seat room overflowed, with the aisles packed with people sitting on the floor, until security enforced the fire code and made everyone leave who was not in a seat.

In response, Gray and Kluge opted to offer one debate for the first 200 from 3:30-5:00 p.m., followed by a second for another 150 from 5:00-6:30 p.m.

While Gray says Kluge is “misguided” on the abortion issue, she also said that she was impressed with the approach he took to the event.  The two were “extremely civil,” sharing lunch beforehand.  As well, at the beginning of each debate Kluge commented on how “deplorable” it was that his colleagues at the university had refused to debate Gray, and insisted on her having the freedom to present her view.

The debate centred on the issue of personhood.  Focusing on the question ‘what is the unborn?’, Gray sought to prove the humanity of the unborn scientifically.  She argued that personhood should be based on the fact of being human, and that the differences between the unborn and the born come down to accidental differences of age and size.

Kluge, on the other hand, emphasized that the unborn certainly are human, says Gray, and scoffed at those who claim the baby is ‘part of the woman’, but argued that an unborn baby is not a person from conception, but becomes so at some later point.

The event was taped, and the video should be posted to Youtube shortly.

While the majority of CCBR’s presentations go off without incident, their presence on university campuses has occasionally provoked strong responses and even loud protests from pro-abortion students.  On October 6th, CCBR’s Jose Ruba was drowned out for two full hours while he attempted to present at McGill University.  Police were called and two arrests were made, but no charges laid.  University officials spoke out strongly against the protest afterwards.

Last February, Ruba was shouted down during the same presentation at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.  In that case, the university itself ended his talk, and he was only able to continue after moving to a nearby church.

Yesterday, about a dozen protesters stood in front of Gray as she spoke in the first debate, holding posters with their backs to her.  While they blocked a view of her from certain angles, she could be heard, and her screen could be seen, she said.  In the second round, only three protesters showed up, and two left in the first five minutes of her speaking.

“We just let them … do what they did, because I think that goes to show [their] immaturity and disrespect,” she said, “and so that spoke volumes to the audience.”

See related coverage:

McGill University Officials Speak Out Against Silencing of Pro-Life Presentation

Pro-Life Event at St. Mary’s U Told to Disband after Protesters Disrupt

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