Anti-abortion film screening promotes misinformation, not debate

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Universities should act only as hosts for conversations about controversial issues—not as purveyors of their own beliefs and agendas.

Earlier this month, King’s University College at Western University hosted a screening of the highly controversial film Unplanned, which depicts a woman’s journey from working at Planned Parenthood to becoming a pro-life advocate. The screening on King’s campus was organized and hosted by the campus’ ministry. 

When it comes to the right to access abortion, there is little to debate aside from individual beliefs. The procedure has been legal in Canada since 1988, and abortion is publicly funded as a medical procedure under the Canada Health Act. 

The decision to have an abortion—or not to have one—is a personal one. Regardless of conflicting beliefs, the procedure is legal, and every Canadian is entitled to access it. Each individual can do with that legal access what they feel is right for them.

The argument in favour of debate and discussion on contentious topics demands equal respect for conflicting beliefs. But the choice to screen Unplanned isn’t a step toward any productive discussion.

The film itself is a sensationalized anti-abortion perspective. Unplanned is rife with belief-fueled misinformation and falsehoods about abortion as a medical procedure. It cannot be justified as a tool for productive discourse surrounding abortion when it has been denounced by medical professionals for misrepresenting key facts about the procedure and gestation

Unplanned’s depiction of Planned Parenthood is another problematic aspect of its narrative. Abortion is one of the many important services Planned Parenthood provides. STI testing, hormone therapy, and birth control are just a few examples of the numerous supports the nonprofit organization facilitates and supplies to people in the US. Painting Planned Parenthood and similar non-profits as antagonists to reproductive health and autonomy is not only blatantly untrue, but actively harmful. The organization’s outreach is unparalleled, and people shouldn’t be turned off of it based on pro-life propaganda.

As an educational institution, King’s College—and Western—must hold themselves to a higher standard. Places of education owe their students honest, informative, and factually accurate information, particularly on topics as controversial as abortion. Unplanned offers none of those things, yet it was screened at the campus under the false pretense of healthy moral debate.

Universities have a responsibility to their students to host controversial conversations with fairness and objectivity—an obligation that King’s University College has failed to uphold.

—Journal Editorial Board

 

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