Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
November 9, 2009
Crown stays Campus Pro-Life charges
University of Calgary students relieved they can display Genocide Awareness Project on Campus
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER
CALGARY - "This is effectively a win for us," said University of Calgary student Leah Hallman after learning members of the pro-life group she leads will not have to go to court.
The university had pressed trespassing charges against six Campus Pro-Life members in February after the students refused to make changes to an exhibit depicting dead fetuses.
The Crown stayed the charges after determining there wasn't enough evidence to proceed with the prosecution.
"(By staying the charges), the Crown is essentially confirming that we do have the right to freedom of speech on our own campus and so it's a triumph in that sense and we are very relieved at this information," Hallman, 22, said Nov. 3.
The students pleaded not guilty last March. "We didn't want to go to court but we were willing to go to court because we believe we were in the right, that we did have the right to be on campus doing this display." Their trial was scheduled to take place Nov. 4.
GENOCIDE AWARENESS PROJECT
The display, known as Genocide Awareness Project, compares the victims of abortion with the victims of past atrocities such as the Holocaust and the Rwandan Genocide.
Campus Pro-Life members have been showing the display on campus once a semester since 2006 "and we are planning on continuing to do it on campus," said Hallman, the club president.
"We have found it to be an effective means of creating awareness about abortion and have been witnesses to many conversions as a result of it."
The staying of the charges takes place nearly a year after the November 2008 display on campus that was the catalyst for the charges being laid.
"It's a relief not to have to go to court; to me it's a kind of a confirmation of the fact we can do this on campus," said Campus Pro-life treasurer Alanna Campbell, 20.
"It's nice not to have to fight the freedom of speech battle anymore because what we are really passionate about is defending the right to life for all people and to be able to focus more on trying to promote respect for the unborn and be a voice for them."
Campbell said she joined the pro-life club two years ago after seeing the display.
RELAY THE MESSAGE
"Actually we think the display is one of the most effective things that we do in getting the message out about abortion and so we'll definitely continue to do this display like we normally do," she told the WCR.
"The Crown's decision is good news for free speech," said John Carpay, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation (CCF), which represented the students.
"The CCF takes no position on abortion but we defend free speech for all Canadians, especially on the campus of a taxpayer-funded university."
Hallman encourages others to get involved in the fight against abortion. "We are lucky in this country to have voices for ourselves and so the challenge is to use our voices to speak for the voiceless, to speak for the unborn," she said.
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