~ by Jackie Jura

I have mentioned elsewhere on the site* that I decided to create Orwell Today after an experience at College ten years or so ago [this written in 2001]. Now I'll go into greater detail about the event that so reminded me of Orwellian "thought police" that when it was all over I dug out an old copy of "1984" and became a spreader of Orwell's message ever after. This website, Orwell Today, is the result of my Orwell conversion and the story below is the defining moment of that conversion.

There's a story in the news today** about a medical student in his final year being denied his degree for refusing, when he becomes a doctor, to offer patients the option of abortion.

On a much smaller scale - ie I wasn't studying to be a doctor - the same thing happened to me in 1991. I was attending the local College*** on a ten-month program that would have qualified me to work as an aide for mentally handicapped people. This came at the time in Canada when institutions for the mentally handicapped were being shut down and the patients who lived there were being sent back to their home towns and into residential care in group homes. So too were mentally handicapped children being taken out of special-needs schools and integrated into regular classrooms.

The instructors all lectured on "normalization" which was the theory that mentally handicapped people should be treated no differently than "normal" people. As caregivers we were to treat our future clients as we would anyone else of their same age group.

I was doing well in the program, achieving top marks and excellent reports back from the professionals in the field overseeing my practical experiences working hands-on with mentally handicapped people in the community.

About halfway through the year I was attending the class of an instructor who that day divided us all into two groups, "A" and "B". He then gave each group their assignment. Those assigned to the "A" group were given the following scenario:

     "You are in an elementary school classroom working with a mentally handicapped
     child when the mother of that child confides in you. She tells you that she is
     pregnant but has just been told by her doctor that the baby she is carrying is
     mentally handicapped and she has decided to carry the baby to term."

Those assigned to my group, "B", were given the following scenario:

     "You are in an elementary school classroom working with a mentally handicapped
     child when the mother of that child confides in you. She tells you that she is
     pregnant but has just been told by her doctor that the baby she is carrying is
     mentally handicapped and she has decided to have an abortion."

The assignment to both groups was to answer the question: "How would you support the mother in her decision"?

Each group was to choose a spokesperson who would take notes summarizing the points made by each individual in the group.

At the end of the time allotted for the assignment, the instructor asked the spokesperson for "A" group to stand up and describe their answers. After the spokesperson was finished, the instructor asked the rest of the group if any points had been overlooked and there were a few people who expounded in a bit more detail. Then the instructor thanked them all for a job well done and turned to our group.

Our group, for whom I was NOT the spokesperson, had had a bit more difficulty in answering the question seeing as how it was about supporting the mother in doing something negative, ie having an abortion. But everyone gave the typical answer, ie that "they understood how she was feeling and that if that is what she wanted to do then that was what she should do" and words to that effect. My answer was a little bit different but after I explained the logic of it to the group they understood and it was incorporated into the summary.

So when it came to our turn the spokesperson stood up and rhymed off all our answers saying more or less that "we all realized it was a difficult decision but we understood how she was feeling and hoped she was making the right decision based on the right advice" or words to that effect.

Then the instructor asked for additions or further comments from the group and a few people expounded in more detail. I didn't say anything to draw attention to myself, and just more or less lay low. But for some reason the instructor decided to personally solicit my opinion. He asked me directly if I agreed with the spokesperson's summary. I said that I did. He then asked me to tell the class personally what exactly my contribution to the discussion had been.

My words, more or less verbatim were, "The way that I would offer support to the mother in her decision to have an abortion would be to tell her that I was not the appropriate person to be talking to about it, and that I think a better person for her to talk to would be a specialist because sometimes the tests aren't accurate."

The instructor told me that my answer was wrong and that I better rephrase it. I asked him how my answer could be wrong when in fact it was the answer "I" had given to the question of how "I" would support the mother. That was the form my support would take, ie "a suggestion to seek a second opinion from someone more qualified". Afterall, I said, I wasn't a personal friend of the woman and nor - after a mere ten-month course in caring for mentally handicapped people - was I in any position to offer any other form of support.

He said that wasn't a good enough answer and I'd have to try harder.

I answered that it was still my answer and I was sticking to it. I added that obviously - having chosen to work with the mentally handicapped in the belief that they are important people - it seemed hypocritical for instructors and students to be casually talking about justifying abortion on the basis of a mental handicap. It seemed like cutting down the forest to save the trees to eliminate the very people to whom all of us were supposedly committed and from whom many were or would be earning a livelihood.

This answer seemed to infuriate the instructor and he told me to leave the room. I refused on the grounds that I had done nothing wrong. He then grabbed his books and papers and stormed out of the room himself, leaving us all in stunned amazement and disbelief.

I was approached outside another classroom later that day and told that the coordinator of the program wanted to see me. She told me the answer I'd given was wrong and that I had to meet personally with the instructor and give the correct answer. I met with the instructor and gave my same answer saying I didn't know the right answer and asked him to tell me what it was. He said I had to figure it out myself. I said I couldn't. End of meeting. A meeting was then arranged between the instructor and the coordinator and myself and it was agreed that there had been a misunderstanding. But somehow, this wasn't good enough.

After that it was downhill all the way and every instructor, save two - my English prof (whose contract was not renewed) and Psychology prof (who was himself later fired under false sexual harassment accusations) - proceeded to attempt to flunk me out. It was impossible due to my high scholastic marks and outstanding practicums but somehow they came up with some reason to yank me out of my practicum outside the College and I was therefore denied the ability to fulfill graduation requirements.

To make a long story short, I didn't take being thrown out of College for no reason, laying down. With a lawyer and two fellow students and the high-school teacher from my practicum backing me up as witnesses I presented my case to the College Committee (Kangaroo Court) set up as the final arbitrator. A few weeks later their verdict came down - GUILTY as originally charged. The only way I could extricate myself from this problem and graduate with the rest of my classmates was to sign a form taking responsibility "for how the whole thing came together". Considering this would be akin to shooting myself in my own foot I refused and so ended my so-called career as an aide for the mentally handicapped.

But from those ashes emerged - ten years down the road and after a successful career as a real estate agent - the creation of Orwell Today.

The decisions we make at these forks in the road are what forms part of our destiny. And choosing the road less-travelled by often makes all the difference. In my case, I'm glad I chose the road I took.

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

The Road Not Taken
~ by Robert Frost ~

All the best,
Jackie Jura, 2001

A reader, a knight for the mentally handicapped, is floored at what the college did to me

Update on Call to Prayer,, Apr 28, 2004
Good news! The medical student has received word that his failing grade has been overturned and that he will be able to graduate from the University of Manitoba with his classmates! Thank you for your encouragement and prayers! It has been a long and grueling year for this student who was given a failing grade in obstetrics and gynecology because of his pro-life stance. His unwillingness to make referrals for abortion was a key issue. The student has held fast to his position through a number of appeals, so it is the faculty that has softened its position. Even though this student's case has been resolved, there are still institutional injustices and discriminatory practices that currently exist. There is yet much to be accomplished. Pray that God will use the momentum of this case and the awareness and concern it has generated to bring about changes in the medical system for the protection of future pro-life students. Pray for the University, the doctors and the instructors who have opposed this student and the principles he represents. Pray for those already practicing medicine with a faithful pro-life ethic, as well as those trainees who must yet grapple with these issues. The medical student and his family feel deeply indebted to each person who has offered support and encouragement and to all who prayed. At the most difficult and dark times, prayer brought them renewal and hope and now finally, resolution. They say, "Thank you! God bless you!"

** Medical Student Being Failed at University of Manitoba for Not Providing Abortion Option, LifeSite, Mar 19, 2004

* Reader asks, "Why is a book which does not make any sense and is utterly boring so important?"


"I asked Robert Frost to come and speak at the Inauguration because I felt he had something important to say to those of us who are occupied with the business of government; that he would remind us that we are dealing with life, the hopes and fears of millions of people. He has said it well in a poem called "Choose Something Like a Star" in which he speaks of the fairest star in sight..."



Go to 22.Doublethink and 27.Goodthink and 30.Love Instinct & Family

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~