On Wednesday, March 19, UBC Lifeline and the National Campus Life Network (NCLN) — a network that supports pro-life clubs such as UBC Lifeline — hosted the Silent No More campaign on campus. Four speakers talked about their experiences with abortion for three hours outside Buchanan A.
“It brought about a significant change in my life … in college and in my relationships. I began to smoke and drink and do drugs,” said Dale Barr, one of the speakers at the event. Marlon Bartram, another speaker, said that 12 years after the abortion, he still feels a void in his life where his 11- or 12-year-old child should be.
Elizabeth Sutcliffe, the third speaker in the campaign, said it was sickeningly easy to choose abortion, but living with the consequences of that decision was a whole other matter.
Angelina Streenstra, the final speaker, said she lived in a prison of guilt, self-hatred and depression. “I tried to start over… I changed my name, my address, my friends, my job … but nothing could erase the memory of the abortion,” she said.
“I didn’t talk about it,” Sutcliffe said. “I felt like I couldn’t talk about it. So now I break my silence to give other women the courage to tell their stories and find healing in finally speaking out.”
Anastasia Pearse, one of the organizers from NCLN, said the Silent No More campaign is being brought to seven different campuses in B.C. According to Pearse, the goals of the campaign are to educate the public about the aftermath of abortion and to reach out to men and women who may be hurting from the experience.
Pearse said close to a third of all abortions are performed on women of university age. Many of these women, she said, do regret their abortions, but do not feel like they can speak out about it.
“It’s important to know that there’s hope after abortion. We see a need to spread this message on campus, and this campaign is a beautiful way to do that,” said Pearse.
Some UBC students disagreed. “They definitely have the right to speak and to have their opinions heard, but I think their techniques [such as] the loudspeakers … are a little invasive,” said Sierra Weiner, a second-year English major. “Some women have regrets and for sure, abortion is not a great experience for anyone, but to make that a platform for nobody having a choice is simply not valid.”
The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre (SASC) was also present at the demonstration. SASC invited people to paint a community mural with what pro-choice means to them and handed out buttons that said “support not shame.”
“We’re here to convey the politics of pro-choice as a movement that supports bodily autonomy and the individual person’s choice in terms of what’s right for their own body. We’re not necessarily pro-life, we’re here to celebrate choice,” said Anisa Mottahed, manager of SASC.