By Claire Lee
A pro-life archbishop who criticized the appointment of Henry Morgentaler to the Order of Canada is visiting Ryerson next Thursday. Some pro-choice students are against the visit.
The Ryerson Catholic Students’ Association will have an information booth and Archbishop Thomas Collins will be there to answer people’s questions, said Clare O’Handley, the organizer of the event.
“This is a sad moment in Canadian History,” wrote Collins last month, referring to the award ceremony for the famous pro-choice activist. Morgentaler, a family physician, fought for women’s access to safe, legal abortions. His advocacy included performing thousands of procedures, which were illegal until 1988.
“The fact of Morgentaler’s actions has caused immeasurable grief by the death of so many vulnerable lives,” said Collins, who will meet with Ryerson students in the Credit Union Lounge in Jorgenson Hall for about an hour.
“I think it’s outrageous that this was done. The title of the Order should be given to a person who desires a better country.
How is causing this terrible grief make us a better country?” In a statement, the Women’s Centre coordinators said they oppose the visit, “on the grounds of his inflammatory viewpoints on abortion, not on his religion.”
“The comments made by Archbishop Collins with regards to Henry Morgentaler receiving the Order of Canada fail to take into consideration the immense contributions that Morgentaler has made,” the statement said.
Rebecca Rose, the Ryerson Students’ Union VP education, said Morgentaler is a hero.
“Henry Morgentaler saved the lives of thousands of women,” said Rose. “I think the term ‘pro-life’ is misleading because they advocate for carrying pregnancies, which are sometimes unwanted, but they don’t advocate for the lives of women.”
Collins said that is not true.
“We are not just simply condemning abortions,” said Collins. “We have to provide help. I have a great deal of support and sympathy for a person who is pressured to have an abortion. It’s not just simply to say don’t do it but to provide alternatives.
“Many people say it’s either abortion or nothing. Or a safe-clinical abortion or an unsafe abortion. But that’s not true. There are several alternatives that respect everyone including the right of a little vulnerable child to life.”
Collins said the Catholic Church provides financial and spiritual support for women whether or not they have an abortion.
Rose said the church isn’t offering enough. “I absolutely agree that we need to be advocating for more child care and more social services and adoption options,” said Rose.
“But until we are in a situation where the entire social services for both before, during and after pregnancy are available, we cannot talk about limiting access to abortions. It’s just not realistic.”
Collins, however, is not planning to make any pro-life speeches during his visit. “If somebody asks him a question about it, then he’ll address it. But if no body asks about pro-life, he’ll not address it,” said O’Handley. “The Archbishop coming to Ryerson has nothing to do with pro-life.”