The petition’s founder, Jo Scofield, calls the demonstrations graphic and distressing.
A new petition created by UBCO student Jo Scofield seeks to persuade the university to ban the Kelowna Right to Life Society from displaying their graphic signs on campus. Having gathered 119 signatures to date, Scofield claims that the signs are inaccurate, serving only to cause mental distress and get attention.
“These signs have an incredibly harmful effect on students,” says Scofield. “Many students miss classes to avoid having to see these protesters and their images. Others are too upset to go to class when they are forced to walk past.”
For Scofield, half the problem with the RTLS’s signs is the means by which they deliver their message.
“If the university forced them to show up in the same manner as the Jehovah’s witnesses it would be less problematic,” says Scofield, adding that “the views pushed by the RTLS propaganda still promote the violation of the rights of anyone with a uterus. The right to reproductive health, family planning, and freedom are all protected in the Canadian Charter as well as international treaties. While freedom of speech allows them to have their opinion, it does not mean we need to allow them to use the university to harass students.”
Scofield argues that “pro-life” campaigns such as the RTLS’s ignore many of the lived realities of individuals capable of bearing children. According to Scofield, these include health problems which may threaten to kill the host and the fetus, physical risks posed to minors who become pregnant after consensual sex or rape, the overflow of children in the foster care system, and the difficulty that accompanies adopting a child in Canada.
In the past, UBC has refused to ban the signs from campus.
“Despite complaints, the RTLS has not been prevented from harassing students on campus,” says Scofield. “This is a violation of the university’s legal responsibility to provide a safe learning environment to students. We hope the petition will encourage the university to uphold their obligation to the students whose fees pay the salary of the staff.”