WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER
Go Life: U of a Campus Pro-Life members, standing, from left to right – Josh La Grange, Leila McMann, Olivia Larocque, Rebecca La Grange, seated Elyse Borle and Julie Godin put up weekly displays on campus.
EDMONTON - The biggest hurdle facing pro-life students from the University of Alberta is the lack of concern and I-don't-care attitude toward pro-life issues.
"Some pro-life club members from other campuses tell me that they will pack a lecture theatre full whenever they do an event. With us, we feel lucky if we have 20 people come to an event," said Leila McMann, president of Go Life: U of A Campus Pro-Life.
"The biggest struggle for us is trying to break the university out of its apathy and actually get interested and involved in this topic," she said.
Go Life students are dedicated to the protection of life from conception until natural death. Almost every week Go Life volunteers set up a booth in the Students Union Building to promote awareness.
"We can interact with students to explain our position, give them some fetal development information, and hand out our brochures," said McMann, a part-time student at the university.
Go Life works to educate and inform the students and university faculty about current life issues such as abortion, fetal rights, euthanasia, stem cell research, and reproductive technologies.
The group has six executive members, and about 10 people attend its meetings regularly. Yet many students are unaware the group exists, and its information booth is seldom visited.
Olivia Larocque, an executive member, said recruiting new members is difficult because Go Life is a group dealing with serious issues, not a light-hearted group, such as the ski club.
"Especially with students, they have a limited amount of free time and they don't necessarily want to spend it talking about a somewhat depressing issue. Really, we do have some fun though. We're not doom and gloom all the time. We have a lot of hope and happiness in our group," said Larocque.
A recent success story came when two students, neither pro-life, started visiting the booth occasionally, engaging in dialogue with the other members. Those two students later joined Go Life.
Recent guest speakers at Go Life events have included a representative from National Campus Life, Jojo Ruba, from the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, and Amanda Gaudet, from the Back Porch.
In conjunction with Life Week, March 5-9, the group has an abortion debate planned, and is trying to bring in Silent No More, a group of post-abortive women who share their testimonies on why they are now pro-life.
"We will set up our cemetery of the unborn, which is 300 white crosses that we stick in the snow in quad, in order to represent the 300 children who are killed every day in Canada due to abortion," said McMann.
Life Week will also feature a talk by university professor Paul Flaman "on the status of the human embryo and the fetus, in the context of abortion and stem cell research," said Josh La Grange, a Go Life executive member.
Go Life seems more fortunate than other pro-life groups across Canada. In the five years that McMann has been active in the group, the university has never tried to shut it down, prevent it from booking space on campus, or force it to remove posters.
"Sometimes our posters do get ripped down by students, but we have had no opposition from the university administration so far," said McMann.
Go Life takes a fairly scientific approach to pro-life, which makes it available to everyone, even those apart from any religious community. The group is secular and open to everyone.
Beyond the club's anti-abortion stance, it also helps young women with unexpected pregnancies improve their lives, and helps women access resources.