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Student union restricts talks on abortion

By on Wednesday, 25 January 2012

University College London, founded in 1826 (Tim Ireland/PA Wire)

University College London, founded in 1826 (Tim Ireland/PA Wire)

Students at University College London have voted to force Catholic chaplaincies to invite pro-abortion speakers to pro-life discussions.

The motion, adopted by 2,002 votes to 818, 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.”

The union also voted to adopt a pro-abortion stance and formally affiliate 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.”

It 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.”

Kajtek Skowronski and Diana Doat Pinto da Costa, of the Catholic Society of UCL, said: “We are very disappointed that UCLU has adopted this motion to take an official stance on what should be a personal matter of conscience; to limit freedom of speech on campus and to affiliate with an extreme organisation that does not represent the views of the student body.

“We are concerned that this could set a precedent for other such divisive issues at UCL. Societies such as the Catholic Society, who by their nature are pro-life, are now no longer able to express themselves without first warning the union and inviting a pro-choice speaker in order that so-called ‘balance’ may be imposed.

“This goes against everything that the union and university as a whole is meant to stand for. Less than 10 per cent of students voted for this motion. It is hardly a shining example of a representative decision.”

This post was updated on Friday, January 27.

  • ms Catholic state

    Hope this malevolent piece of evil is thoroughly defeated.  Speakers supporting murder of the innocent and defenceless is not the sign of a civilised society but a barbaric one.
    Must be a reaction to the very successful March for Life’s held in the US and Paris.  Now London needs one.

  • tutu

    The UCL union’s policy on the freedom of  speech is not very consistent…

  • Anonymous

    Debates cannot be controlled in this way and the SU shouldn’t be involved. Free speech and the freedom of anybody to make as many choices about themselves as possible are closely related.

    Forcing so called ‘balanced’ debates never works. But that wouldn’t stop the anti-abortionists or the pro-abortionists inviting opponents to hear what they have to say.

  • Ohio reader

    Unbelievable, despotic fascism. Will any other groups, religious or otherwise, be targeted? Will other groups have to provide “balance” for any speaker they invite? Will Muslim events have to be “balanced” by anti-Islamic speakers? I’ll  bet they won’t, because those who are targeting the Catholics are not only fascists, they are cowards who would never dare to provoke anyone other than traditional Catholics. Will your government be bringing back the “hanged, cut down alive, drawn and quartered” penalty for Catholic priests next? This is intentional, active, negative discrimination. Catholic citizens of the UK pay taxes and should not have to settle for being second-class citizens.

  • theroadmaster

     “Pro-choice” is code for pro-abortion and the dissembling nature of the words that the proposers of this insidious motion at the UCL is all too clear.  The imposition of a “pro-choice” speaker to supposedly even up a numerical deficit vis-a-vis pro-life speakers in a debate is nothing more than an attempt to hamper or silence those who advocate on behalf of the unborn.   The inherent contradictions in the motion must be openly exposed and organized peaceful resistance to this must be contemplated as part of an overall strategy/

  • Anonymous

    Liam is a boy……

  • The Catholic Herald

    Thank you for pointing that out. It has now been corrected.

  • ms Catholic state

    Freedom isn’t really what they are interested in.  Control and power is what they are really after.

  • ms Catholic state

    Freedom isn’t really what they are interested in.  Control and power is what they are really after. 

  • ms Catholic state

    Freedom isn’t really what they are interested in.  Control and power is what they are really after. 

  • Johannes Faber

    Lol, ‘anti-choice’ says it all. 

    Will those in favour of abortion be inviting pro-life speakers when they invite pro-slaughter speakers? I think not. 

    This is a load of old bunkum anyway. We’re watching the end of society.

  • Ohio reader

    Will pro-Palestinian events have to invite pro-Israeli speakers? Will protests against torture, for example, be forced to provide a forum for those who are pro-torture? Will anti-racist events have to allow racial supremacists to speak? And will pro-choice events themselves be subjected to this rule? Will *they* be obligated to provide *pro-life* speakers for “balance”? If “balance” is such an urgent priority of the Student Union, I would expect this to happen next week. Also, that “anti-choice” label: that is the language of the pro-abortion lobby. Take your language back. Never let your opponents’ labels pass without challenge. Make them define their terms, every time, and blast them back–rhetorically. Enlist the help of pro-life Protestants, Muslims, atheists, and anyone else you can find.Enlist the help of any decent person who recognizes that a minority voice is being silenced. If your government has committed to recognizing the rights of minorities, then insist that you be recognized as a minority, because you are. Your viewpoint does not make you a second-class citizen, nor does it demand that you retreat from public life.

  • D Hanlon

    I’m afraid this says more about the irrelevancy of student unions nowadays. Such a hypocritical position can be adopted because the vast majority of students have practically nothing to do with “their” union. I don’t feel at all surprised that the union has a pro-choice stance, they mostly always have had. All that has changed is that they have gradually become less and less rigorous or principled. The Catholic Society does not need the union so should act independently and use its own judgement.

  • alf

    See our coverage of the UCLU referenda results:

  • Fourth Norn

    It’s hard to be harsh on students. After 40 years in universities, I’m not surprised. It’s not the presence of those who advocate for abortion that I object to but the authoritarian imposition which would not cut the other way. All of this diminishes the status of universities and the worth of reasonable intellectual inquiry. Imposition runs totally against the grain of rational argument but more: it runs against the reasonable rights of Catholic students to use Union facilities to discuss matters of importance to them. This wouldn’t happen with abortion advocates or even with Islamic students. The latter would call out the culprits and probably the time has arrived for Catholics to do the same. Well, that’s an Australian view: the temperate English Catholicism of Polding didn’t last long: my Irish forbears preferred a different approach, and that would have despatched the bigots at UCL very quickly indeed. Still, I prefer the irenic approach of English Catholics. At some point, however, you might need to ask yourselves whether your very good manners don’t make you vulnerable.

  • UCL student

    “Will those in favour of abortion be inviting pro-life speakers when they invite pro-slaughter speakers? I think not.”
    Actually they will, because the regulation imposed the same restriction on both pro-choice AND anti-choice events.

    Anyway, I’m not pleased at the regulation of discussion events, but I’m absolutely ecstatic that my union is going to stand up and fight for access to abortion for women and trans* men. Which was the main point of the vote. This stuff is a side-show by comparison.

  • Mcarroll3

    There is a simple solution to this. A quick email to UCL (no longer than 5 minutes) will soon register your disgust at what is going on.

    I am sending mine now.

  • PuzzledofChi

    “abortion for women and trans* men”..abortion for trans-men………explain

  • Anonymous

    What do they think “freedom of speech” actually means? The right to be heard? “Freedom of speech” often simply means shouting down the opposition. To be heard, the listener has to be silent, and this requires respect for the speaker’s views. Where the listener’s values are diametrically opposed to the speaker’s values, there is likely to be only hostility. Hostile people do not listen and so their presence is inimical to freedom of speech. Are the pro-abortionists prepared to listen to someone who will not pull their punches? Are they happy to hear themselves referred to as heartless murderers who sacrifice babies in order to use one another for sexual gratification – on a par with sex offenders? No – their love of freedom of speech extends only as far as it serves their purposes. It is just another form of foolish idolatry.

  • Ohio reader

    “I’m absolutely ecstatic that my union is going to stand up and fight for access to abortion for women and trans* men. Which was the main point of the vote. This stuff is a side-show by comparison.”

    I’m glad you openly admit that the “main point of the vote” was to restrict information about exactly what abortion does and why that viewpoint must be oppressed, compressed, depressed and  ultimately suppressed. It’s a beautiful piece of fascism. Hitler would love it.

    Is the Student Union also in favor of capital punishment by drawing and quartering, or by dipping in a caustic solution? Because that is what abortion does.

    I would also like to ask what a “trans man” is, and why “trans men” would have abortions. Is it because they are, in fact, women? People actually are one or the other.

    Somebody said that modernism eliminated the supernatural, post-modernism the natural. This is exactly what is happening here. The contempt for nature is quite ironic in a class of people who are often meticulous about organic vegetarianism.

    Read Brave New World. It is your world. Congratulations on your part in the assisted suicide of Western Civilization.

  • Zether

    That’s some forward thinking there, unless they mean female -> male trans men.

    It is pretty confusing, but I think that’s what they ment.

  • Jfrancismcgilligan

    This is just the start, The enemies of Holy Mother Church are gathering their forces.
    If we want to debate an issue that reflects or catholic view point we do not need to be forced into debating with the enemy.. Look at disattachment to the student union, that way they cannot dictate what is disscussed. I am sure the nearest Catholic church would allow Catholic students and others to meet in their hall. Remember the fewer students in the student union means less money for the student Union. They need us more than we need them.         J. Francis mcGilligan.

  • Charles Martel

    Time for Catholics to hit back hard. Don’t just roll over and die.

  • Charles Martel

    Universities in Britain are a joke. It’s amazing to see how much they have declined in the past 30 years. So called ‘professors’ appear on TV who can barely string a logical grammatical sentence together. I don’t understand why anyone now would pay to enter one of these PC brainwashing units.

  • Fourth Norn

    Well, this kind of response is to be expected, if not respected. It seems for many that the real issue is not the life to be taken but the choice of the woman. Hell, I don’t want to push women around but how can anyone have a ‘right’ to take a life and then, to make matters worse (which they are in many jurisdictions, e.g. Victoria in Australia) have a ‘right’ to compel others to participate in taking that life? Philosophically, this is a conclusion in search of an argument.

  • UCL student

    In basic terms, yes, that is what I mean. People who have a uterus but live and regard themselves as men (or indeed, I should mention, who live and regard themselves as neither strictly men or women).

  • Parasum

    The answer to your question depends on what one thinks freedom is, & what is for.  This little lot of disagreements is quite likely to be derived from different, & conflicting, notions of freedom. This doesn’t imply that either party is an illiberal monster opposed to freedom.

  • Anonymous

    Different and conflicting degrees of reverence for truth perhaps. Truth and Freedom being 2 sides of the one coin, one cannot be genuinely for Freedom while closing one’s mind to the truth. Those whose deeds are evil prefer not to hear the truth. Truth cannot contradict Truth, so one party must be wrong. Liberality without truth is a contradiction in terms, and freedom to kill for sex is monstrous.

  • geoffreysmith1

    “Students at University College London have voted to force Catholic chaplaincies to invite pro-abortion speakers to pro-life discussions.”

    Actually the time for pro-life discussions is long past.  Our point of view is well-known and we are not going to change it, UCL or no UCL.  It is now the time for action, and we Catholics must become a lot more belligerent in our anti-abortion activity, as our fellow-Catholics in America have demonstrated.

  • Cassandra

    I doubt you’d complain if someone went to a pro-choice talk where a pro-life speaker had to give their point of view (as will be the case following the result of the referendum, unless you’ve conveniently not read “and vice versa” above), and having heard them was convinced and changed their stance to pro-life. Don’t forget that this motion will also get the pro-life message across to those who might not otherwise be exposed to it.

    If your views are strong and well thought through then they should be able to stand up to scrutiny and counter-argument; if they are threatened merely by *hearing* someone who disagrees then perhaps it’s time to rethink your stance. I have a dear Catholic friend who is vehemently pro-life and has a well thought out, intelligent, calm and logical response to any pro-choice argument you could possibly put to him – he is in no way threatened by open debate and so commands immense respect and admiration by actually engaging with opposing points of view rather than blocking them out. It saddens me that there are not more people like him.

  • Ohio reader

    What you’re describing sounds like a mental illness. Which it is. “People who have a uterus” are, I’m sorry to be so blunt, women.

  • Ohio reader

    You’ve made some good points, but the fact remains that the pro-life viewpoint has been singled out as needing “balance.” Have other positions been  so singled out? If not, why not? The pro-life position certainly is defensible in debates, and we need more debates, certainly. But why must every public event which has somebody presenting a pro-life view be a debate? It saddens me as well that there are not more people like your friend. I am glad that he does not block out opposing views. But how many of those who hold opposing views would block out his?

  • Damian

    Illiberal by nature