Monday, January 30, 2012

Student union attempts to restrict pro-life talks

Students at University College London will vote on a motion this month which would force Catholic chaplaincies to invite pro-abortion speakers to pro-life discussions.

The motion says: “Any future open events focusing on the issue of termination invite an anti-choice speaker and a pro-choice speaker as well as an independent chair, to ensure there is a balance to the argument.”

Students will vote on a pro-abortion motion which could mean the student union adopting an official pro-abortion stance and formally affiliating itself to the organisation Abortion Rights.

The motion notes: “On October 31 2011, UCLU Catholic Society advertised a ‘discussion’ around the issue of abortion which consisted of one pro-life speaker. It is also noted that people who held opposing views were invited to attend.”

The motion continues: “An official pro-choice policy would not prevent students who disagree with termination on ethical or religious grounds from exercising their right not to seek a termination. Pro-choice policy encourages students to make well-informed decisions regarding their bodies and their futures. When clubs and societies invite pro-life speakers they should also invite a pro-choice speaker to balance the debate and vice versa.”

Liam O’Hara, a PhD student at University College London, said she was “disturbed” by the resolution.

She said: “Not only did it propose that the UCL union adopts an official pro-choice stance and affiliates with the Abortion Rights UK organisation, but that it requires any student society to inform the Union when it proposes to hold events on the topic of abortion. The draconian measures continue, requiring that the societies must provide an independent chair and a pro-abortion speaker against the pro-life speaker."

“These measures will allow the union to curtail the freedom of speech and freedom of association of any pro-life or Catholic society at UCL wishing to discuss the topic of abortion. In order to continue to act according to their consciences, such student societies will have to disaffiliate with the union and meet off-campus. The spirit of the resolutions are completely hostile to any contradictory point of view: to be pro-life is a form of secular heresy in the Union’s view. Furthermore, they are patronising bright UCL students who come to university in order to be challenged."

“If the union is successful, I would encourage students who object to opt-out of Union membership and boycott the union’s facilities.”