Canada now has a “developing national network” that connects pro-choice student groups on campus across Canada. Synergy was created by the Abortion Right Coalition of Canada (ARCC), which is the only nation-wide political pro-abortion group in Canada, to counter the growing pro-life presence on university campuses.
Synergy stands for Student and Youth Network for Reproductive Justice and it seeks to raise awareness about reproductive ‘choice’ issues and rally young people “behind ‘other’ political, social, and economic concerns that increase women’s access to reproductive justice in Canada.” The website states in the ‘about’ section that this group is a response to “the powerful anti-choice movement that threatens to infiltrate Canada’s “progressive” laws.”
It is interesting that Synergy would start up at the end of 2009. National Campus Life Network (NCLN) has been working with pro-life student groups across Canada since 1997 and has seen a steady increase in pro-life activism on campuses, especially in the last couple of years. They are working with groups from more than 30 campuses to produce intellectually honest and graphically appealing resources, abd they host an annual symposium for the leaders. With their new website just launched in August they feature an active blog, as well as a central place for the campus club’s blogs to merge at www.ncln.ca.
NCLN’s Maritime Campus Coordinator, Sara Hall, comments on Synergy, “I think Synergy felt the need to start now due to the growing pro-life presence on Canada’s university campuses. Pro-life students are speaking up more than ever and are using effective ways in spreading the pro-life message. The pro-choice side is reacting to the ‘powerful anti-choice movement’ as they wrote in their website.”
The blog section of the Synergy website has produced a grand total of three posts since Nov. 11th, 2009 – about one every four months – and no comments thus far. One post features a young woman holding a sign that says “Students for Reproductive Rights UBC’s Pro-Choice Club.” So far, the University of British Columbia is the only campus that is a part of the ‘network.’
Resources provided by Synergy include a handbook and a sheet of chants and cheers. They include “Ho-Ho, Hey-Hey, Women’s rights are here to stay!” and “Free abortion on demand, From B.C. to Newfoundland!”
Hall reflects on Synergy’s accomplishments and activities to this point: “Their efforts so far lack strategic planning and civil debate on the subject. In saying that, of course their efforts should not be silenced and they have a right to support pro-choice groups on campus.”
Notably, their resource entitled “Pro-Choice Backgrounder” claims that following the Morgentaler decision 1988, the “abortion rate has been relatively low and stable” according to World Health Organization’s report, “The World Health Report 2005: Make Every Mother and Child Count.” Statistics Canada tells another story with 66,710 induced abortions happening in 1978; 72,693 in 1988; 79,315 in 1989, 110,331 in 1998; and 91, 377 in 2006. The statistics from 2006 do not include numbers from British Columbia, New Brunswick and Manitoba. For more misinformation you can view the rest of their resources at your leisure.
Synergy has come about to respond to pro-life activism on campuses, but pro-life leaders on campus note that there is already tremendous support for opposing the pro-life view from the Canadian Federation of Students, most women centres and individual student unions. The idea that abortion supporters needed to create an entity to provide some sort of balance to the pro-life presence at universities across the country is laughable.