Student governments at three Canadian schools of higher education – Carleton University, University of British Columbia at Okanagan and Capilano College in Vancouver – have voted to deny funding and services to any campus group that opposes abortion. Pro-life students are nonetheless obliged to provide financial support for all other student activities. One wonders how many more Canadian colleges and universities will follow suit.

The prevailing attitude is that no one should interfere with a woman’s choice. This attitude makes it abundantly clear that the so-called “pro-choice” people do not know the first thing about choice. This level of ignorance would be inexcusable on any level. But on the level of higher education, it rises to a national disgrace.

In surveying the anatomy of choice, the first thing we realize is that it is essentially different from a “guess.” The factor that distinguishes a choice from a guess is knowledge. Simply stated, a choice without knowledge is merely a guess, a stab in the dark, a toss of the coin. To suppress knowledge is to suppress choice.

I recall, with mild amusement, a true/false test I took many years ago in an education class. The unique feature of this test was that there were no questions. We were asked to write down 20 true or false answers in response to 20 questions that did not exist. The teacher held in secret the “correct” answers.

In a certain sense, we could regard this as an experiment in total freedom. No one was led or misled by tendentious questions or enlightening data. One was perfectly free to write “true” or “false,” completely insulated from any hint of illuminating information. It was truly a “pro-choice” test.

In hindsight, such an approach to testing would have spared both teachers and students a lot of time and energy by skipping the content of the course and going directly to the “pro-choice” test. The passing grade, of course, would need to be very low and exceedingly few students would excel. However, the purity of each student’s liberty would remain unsullied.

The notion that freedom is free to the extent that it is divorced from knowledge betrays a complete ignorance of the meaning of freedom. The great value of freedom lies in the fact that it enables us to choose what is good. But we cannot choose what is good if we are deprived of the very knowledge that illuminates it. Choice needs knowledge in the same way that the eye needs light.

With this in mind, the great philosopher, Jacques Maritain has written the following: “Cram it (freedom) with advice as much as you like, we know that it is strong enough to digest advice and that it thrives on rational motivations which it bends as it pleases and which it alone can render efficacious. In short, by suppressing generality and universal law, you suppress liberty; and what you have left is nothing but that amorphous impulse surging out of the night which is but a false image of liberty.”

In an article published by the New England Journal of Medicine, the authors voice their opposition to allowing women who are contemplating abortion to view the ultrasound image of their developing child. Their reason for withholding these images is that they do not want to “violate the women’s neutrality.” The doctors are aware of the fact that women who see images of their unborn child often bond with the child and decide against abortion.

Pure neutrality, needless to say, makes choice impossible. Women cannot truly exercise their freedom of choice in the absence of information that is pertinent to that choice, no more than a person can breathe in a vacuum. In fact, a state of total moral indifference is pathological, described by psychologists as “apathy.”

The presence of pro-life students on a college campus represents an invaluable asset for choice. In providing information and reasoned argumentation, pro-life students are helping certain women to make a choice rather than a guess on so vital a matter as abortion.

By a strange perversion of thought, in order to join the “pro-choice” orthodoxy, one must be resolutely anti-choice. The students who voted to outlaw funding for pro-life activities are neither pro-choice nor pro-education. They are not even students, since a student is one who “desires learning.” They are pro-abortion and in order to defend that position, they find themselves opposing both knowledge and choice, while shrouding themselves in darkness and fiercely dedicating themselves to discrimination.

This is no way to operate a school of higher education.

Professor Donald DeMarco, a frequent contributor, is an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary.