Sarnia, Canada -- A decision by Lambton College officials to cancel a pro-life seminar is being criticized by some college faculty and students.
In addition to speaking with area high schools, Michigan lawyer Rebecca Kiessling, a leading authority on abortion laws and the pro-life movement, was scheduled to speak to a group of students at Lambton College earlier this week.
However, college administration nixed the scheduled presentation late Friday.
Kiessling calls the decision ludicrous.
"What's so ridiculous is these liberal institutions pride themselves as safe havens for free speech," Kiessling said, in between information sessions at St. Christopher Secondary School."A fundamental of democracy is not to discriminate. Colleges are supposed to be there for a free flow of ideas."
Kiessling learned when she was 18 she was conceived by a rapist. Her birth certificate listed her father as an unknown male Caucasian.
She learned her birth mother also planned to abort the pregnancy, but couldn't after a series of snow storms forced her to cancel her first two abortion clinic appointments. By then the pregnancy went too far into term, so her mother decided to give Rebecca up for
Since then she has become a respected family lawyer and one of North America's leading pro-life voices. On top of her pro-life message, Kiessling also touches on issues of female empowerment and helps teens by discussing identity and self-esteem issues.
College spokesperson Cindy Buchanan said there were a number of reasons why the college cancelled the seminar.
She said organizers did not follow the proper process to bring a speaker into the school.
"To use the facilities you have to go through the proper channels," she said, which includes informing the registrar of the event, the topic of discussion and ensuring the topic would be presented in a balanced manner.
"That was not the case here," Buchanan said, adding the event was never formally approved by the college even though it had been scheduled for weeks through faculty members.
Those faculty members included instructors Dan Borody and Margaret Carter.Both are members of Christian Fellowship, which meets every Thursday inside the college.
"We've never had a problem with any of our topics before," said Carter.
But it became an issue due to the political and religious issues arising from the abortion debate, said Buchanan. According to the college's constitution, the school is not permitted to host events that provide a one-sided view of a political or religious issue.
"We're not forcing anybody to hear (Kiessling's) talk. We were going to hold it in a small room, not the cafeteria," Brody said.He said if Kiessling had been pro-abortion the situation may have been different.
But Buchanan said she couldn't recall the institution ever having any individual speak on the issue of abortion. The college does, however, provide information and literature on abortion, as well as free condoms and telephone support numbers.
College students said they were a bit perplexed by what they see as the college's hypocrisy, adding the college should be promoting education, not banning it.
"I think any group like that should be allowed to speak in the college,"said second-year student Sonny Parkes.
Sandra Pennel, a second-year student in the Early Childhood Education program, said "I think it would be good" to hear a pro-life presentation at the college.
Nursing student Melanie Harper called the college's decision biased.
"I would welcome the opportunity to hear (Kiessling) speak. By the college administration saying yay or nay they are in fact taking a political stand."
ACTION: Express your opinion by contacting Lambton College, 1457 London Rd., Sarnia, Ontario, Canada, N7S 6K4, or call 519-542-7751.