Pro-life speaker Jose Ruba was shouted down at St. Mary's University by abortion supporters.

Pro-life speaker Jose Ruba was shouted down at St. Mary's University by abortion supporters.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with comparing abortion to the Holocaust, Jose Ruba of The Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform has generated substantial media attention for his presentation, “Echoes of the Holocaust.” On Feb. 5, Ruba was met with hostile opposition at a talk he was scheduled to give at St. Mary’s University in Halifax during a Canadian speaking tour.


The event attracted the attention of pro-life and pro-abortion students alike; the former came to hear his presentation, the latter to disrupt it. Pro-abortion activists barged into the room minutes into Ruba’s presentation, chanting, “My body, my choice,” while covering the projector Ruba was using and effectively eliminating the chance for Ruba to continue with his presentation.

When university security arrived on the scene, the protesters were momentarily silent, but promptly resumed their shouting as Ruba displayed pictures from the Holocaust and a video of an abortion being carried out. Security did not stop the protest that prevented the presentation from continuing and police arrived 40 minutes later. When the disruption continued, the police threatened to arrest the protesters, but instead, university administration officials shut down Ruba’s presentation. He continued it at a nearby Catholic church.

The National Campus Life Network noted in a press release that in his eight years of giving university presentations, Ruba has never been met with such hostility.

“What looks worse, shutting down a university-approved presentation or arresting people who are unlawfully disrupting that presentation?” asked Ruba, who said he was appalled that the university gave in to the mob rule. “St. Mary’s should be ashamed of itself for showing students that they need only scream when they don’t like something, rather than dialogue respectfully.”

The incident produced a storm of commentary and reaction. Blogs buzzed, pundits commented and citizens sent off letters to the editor. It seemed everyone had something to say about the issue, pro-life and pro-choice titles aside.

Some individuals who consider themselves to be pro-life, however, have qualms with the Genocide Awareness Project, due to its straight-shooting approach in showing photographs of mutilated babies – or rather what is left of them – and graphically contrasting them with scenes from the Holocaust. At the same time, some abortion supporters have defended the right of pro-lifers to have their say.

Mark Mercer, a SMU philosophy professor, told the Halifax Chronicle-Herald that it was wrong for the school to give in to mob rule. Mercer said the protesters should have been disciplined for their actions and the university should have let Ruba continue his presentation. He said the people who shouted him down should have been “carried away” by security for the disruption. He added: “The goal of our institution is understanding, but part of that is discussion … If someone says something, we don’t interrupt.”

Ruba told “If the unborn are not human beings, then comparisons to the Holocaust are insensitive … Really that’s the crux of the question that we need to ask them: are they (unborn children) human beings? In order for them to accuse us of being hateful, they have to prove that the unborn are not human beings. And they don’t want to engage in that debate.”

The Chronicle Herald also reported that Lesley-Anne Steeleworthy, chairwoman of the board at SMU’s women’s centre, is considering a human rights complaint against the chaplain for allowing the talk in the first place. “The chaplain is supposed to be there for all students on campus and yet he’s advocating anti-choice,” she complained.

Shortly after the St. Mary’s event, Ruba spoke without incident at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S.