It seems that dissent from the neo-liberal orthodoxy on university campuses is an offence that abortion advocates will not bear. At the first sign of rebellion from the party line, the tanks roll in.

When pro-life students met with the full body of the board of directors of RyeSAC – the student government at Ryerson – a representative of the Ontario Coalition of Abortion Clinics was invited to testify to the “hateful nature” of pamphlets distributed by Ryerson Students for Life, including quotes from Mother Theresa. At that meeting, RSL, which had up to that moment been given the green light by RyeSAC, was told that it was a purveyor of “hate” and was attempting to intimidate women. Its application to form an official campus group was then denied.

On March 12, a hastily organized forum took place where speakers from the OCAC and the Canadian Abortion Rights Action League spoke to nearly 25 students about threats to “reproductive choice” by the new “anti-choice” movement in Canada and the U.S. It was an interesting meeting.

Held in what amounted to a hallway of the Ryerson administration building, it managed to attract only a few students, including the representative from the erstwhile pro-life group, even though there was electronic amplification and a constant stream of students going back and forth. At the end, none of the female students had spoken and the moderator, obviously embarrassed, had to specifically ask if any women would like to comment. It was telling that the most vociferous advocates of abortion “rights” were men.

The speakers included two familiar faces from the old guard of the abortion movement, Judy Rebick, formerly of the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, who now holds an endowed chair at Ryerson University, Carolyn Egan of the OCAC, and a young woman representing CARAL’s new “face of youth.”

Rebick and Egan gave a history of pro-abortion activism in Canada. Then the audience heard from Tanya Epstein O’Rourke. She was young, pretty and articulate. In contrast to the old campaigners, she indulged in almost no rhetorical excesses and no ad hominem attacks. Rebick and Egan reminded one of the old feminists from the 70s: tired, angry, strident. O’Rourke made one want to like her. It was impossible not to like her. Apparently, the abortion advocates are catching on to the need for an attractive public face.

O’Rourke was there to promote CARAL’s newest initiative – to recruit activists from student populations, starting in Toronto. It seems the attempt to bring the pro-life message to Ryerson was just the opportunity CARAL and the OCAC have been waiting for – to, in O’Rourke’s words, “secure a pro-choice future” by indoctrinating youth on campuses.