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Students block union’s attempt to stifle free speech on abortion

By on Tuesday, 27 March 2012

University College London (PA photo)

University College London (PA photo)

A student rebellion has crushed an attempt to ban free discussion of abortion at a leading British university.

The National Union of Students at the University College London abandoned its plans to impose pro-abortion speakers on students’ groups if they ever tried to arrange a talk by a speaker critical of terminations.

The climbdown was forced by a coalition of students who objected to what they considered to be an attack on free speech.

Union trustees accepted advice from their own lawyers that the students were right to claim that the move to curtail free speech had been “completely illegal”.

The students had claimed that the resolution had breached Section 43 of the 1986 Education Act that protects freedom of expression in universities and had threatened the union with a legal challenge.

Trustees were also told that proposals to affiliate and donate to the political Abortion Rights campaign were also against the charity laws that govern students’ unions.

Their decision to drop the pro-abortion resolutions could have huge repercussions in students’ unions across Britain that already give money to Abortion Rights, including those of Oxford, Leeds and Goldsmith College at the University of London.

The row erupted after the UCL Catholic Society invited Lord Alton of Liverpool, the former Lib Dem MP, to give a talk about the right to life last October.

The students union passed a motion stating: “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.”

Cajetan Skowronski, the incoming president of the Catholic Society, said that afterwards “students from all kinds of backgrounds approached us and said ‘if you want to challenge this we will support you because it’s ridiculous that a union is trying to impose one opinion on us, especially at a university”.

“We had support from people who were pro-choice as well as those who were pro-life,” he said.

Catholic, Jewish and Sikh students later informed the union in a joint letter that they would not abide by the resolution.

Students then initiated legal action against the union which resulted in a meeting of the trustees who threw out the resolutions.

Mr Skrowronski, who attended the meeting, said the trustees took the simple view that “if it’s illegal we can’t do it and if it’s impractical we can’t do it”.

Neil Addison, the director of the Thomas More Legal Centre who advised the students, said: “I am delighted with this result which is due to the courage of pro-life students refusing to be intimidated.

“I find it worrying that a students’ union should be so ignorant of the concept of free speech and demonstrate such a totalitarian and intolerant mindset,” he said.

“Pro-abortionists are increasingly trying to prevent the pro life message being heard and to close down debate on the subject of abortion,” Mr Addison added. “That will not be allowed to happen.”

  • Cjkeeffe

    “EVERY WAKING MOMENT TRYING TO IMPREGNATE ANY WOMAN ANYWHERE.” Actually Patrick I think you’ll find thats what Darwianian Evolutionists should be doing. As under Darwin’s Doctorine the sole purpose of the organism is to replicate itself. The Catholic Church adopts a view of life of proper stewardship of creation. And yes I’ve read Darwin.

  • Guest

    Hey, who said ‘guest’ is a ‘he’, or even one single person?
    Maybe there are actually lots of people who disagree with the ridiculous arguments put forwards by the anti-choice lobby?
    I AM SPARTA… I mean, ‘guest’.

  • Bert

    Try reading a science book or two.  Identical twins do not have the same DNA.  Years ago, it was thought that they did but that was only because we lacked the technology to differentiate between identical twins.  New technology, however, can differentiate between them and we no longer believe that they share the same DNA.

    Then again, you would have known that if you did any research in biology.

  • Cjkeeffe

    voted in our thousands – you nearly had me there! But your first post said taht only 2001 vogted yes, so is that eally thousands? to most people thousands conjures up more than that. 818 voted against and 402 abstained so in all 3,221 (that also is not an impresive number! perhaps one should get back to their books and study!

  • James H

    Oh, I dunno – let’s try, a civilisation built without slavery (medieval Europe), Universities, the concept of linear time, the belief of equal dignity of all human beings in the sight of God, outlawing of honour killings, allowing women to be educated and own property (until the Calvinists came along), the belief that God was logical and non-contradictory (hence so was the Universe), forbidding witch-hunts (until the Reformation happened), the Gregorian calendar, clocks, eye-glasses, crop rotation, ploughs (and horse-collars to go with them), windmills, sustainable forestry… I could go on, but it’s been done in detail here:

    http://m-francis.livejournal.com/tag/medieval

  • Bert

    I suppose.  It isn’t very lucky for them, though.

  • Sebastian

     It is not about forcing society to support abortion. To put it in perspective, it is for the society to provide people the freedom to decide over their own life and beliefs, just as this (very) secularised country allows people with various religious beliefs have access to their own facilities such as churces, mosques etc. Offering a choice for people with different beliefs to make their own choice of living, which we all should have a right to do.
    This is what a pro-choice is about, whereas pro-life wants to stop others from using their freedom of choice to choose to live according to their own beliefs and instead be forced to live according to the beliefs of pro-life.

    Pro-choice doesn’t stop anyone against abortion to not use this option, whereas a pro-life would stop someone who wants the right to abortion to use this option.

  • Bert

    Ridiculous?  It appears that the only coherent arguments on this story are the pro-life ones.

  • Bea

    Absolutely brilliant news! Thank God!

  • Guest

    I’d like to be the first to call Cjkeefee out on his/her blatant and disgusting transphobia. But not at all surprising considering earlier posts which have been just as bigoted.

  • Guest

    I’ll go away if someone produces a coherent, logical, evidence-based argument for why I should believe the dictates of the Bible or your Church. Until then, I don’t see what’s wrong with illustrating my point with llama-smearing analogies (llama-smearing being no more absurd and arbitrary a reason to damn someone than half the stuff condemned by Catholicism, like non-heterosexuality)

  • Guest

    Well I actually quite like the idea of you paying for ALL MY ABORTIONS.

  • Cjkeeffe

    That’s why we never progressed at all on getting- gay rights (Civil Partnerships and specific Hate Crime)- women’s rights (Sex Discrimination Acts and Equal Pay Acts from the 1960’s and 1970’s)- access to abortion (Abortion Act 1967)- ethnic minorities’ rights (Equality Acts race Relations Act 1960’s)- disabled people’s rights (Disability Discrimination Act 1985)- minimum wage (Done)- maximum working weeks (48 Hour Working Time Directive) – workplace safety laws (Health And Safety at Work Acts 1970s and also historical factories and mines acts)- trade and student union recognition (Unions have been fully recognition since Tulpuddle Martyrs)- religious and irreligious liberty (yea Gods you’re here arguing against the religious teaching against abortion thus undermining your own argument for religious liberty – please wake up and present an argument) – universal healthcare (NHS Act over 60 years ago)- universal education (Education Act likewise)- the welfare state (introduced after the war – you know the one with Hitler – nasty man who thought that the un born where a burden on the body politic)
    All these rights have been developed so what are you arguing about. But all rights have responsibilities or limitations you can look that sort of thing up in the European Convention on Human Rights. You know the court that has said last week that gays do not have a human right to marry!

  • Guest

    Is TWO thousand ‘thousands’?
    Yes. Cos it’s more than one.

  • Bert

    ????  What Cjkeeffe said is scientically accurate.  Are you a sciencephobe?

  • Sebastian

     It might be worth pointing out that life as it is defined to day, at least in scientific terms, means that all the million of sperms that are ejaculated is a living cell of its own…
    It’s also worth noting that only 20% of all natural conceptions lead to development of an embryo, so despite all eggs and sperms that fuse, majority will never even be close to develop, far less will last to birth, hence a “natural” system for abortion does exist in the human body and in the rest of the animal kingdom.

  • Cjkeeffe

    Your right – but what about Jesus when he says – go sin no more!

  • Guest

    Can’t say I expect you to have much luck with that.

  • Bert

    The problem is that SCIENTICALLY, life begins at conception.  Therefore, if society allows abortions, it is allowing murder.  Much of our society is based upon the assumption that human life is sacred (or whatever secular word you wish to use) and we are obligated, as a society, to protect it.  You go to jail if you murder someone and rightly so.  Someone has to stand up for the right of the unborn to live.

  • Bert

    No doubt.

  • Cjkeeffe

    If you had a sense of the theatrical you would have said you where Spartacus or perhaps Legion because you are many. It does explain why the logic of some of your posts leaves a lot to be desired.  Sparta was an Anciet Greek City state.

  • Guest

    *rolls eyes*

    Identical twins carry genetic differences basically only in the same sense that there are genetic differences within a single person – i.e. due to mutations in subsets of the cells post-conception (since identical twins originate from the same embryo, which has spontaneously split at some point). So technically, yes, there are tiny genetic differences, but if you want to assert these make different people, then you have to also say that I and every other human being is made up of multiple people, due to the genetic differences carried by subsets of my cells. Also you have to believe that tumours are separate people, and cancer treatment is murder.

  • Guest

    LOL desperately clutching at semantic straws there…

    I don’t study from books, they get out of date too quickly in my field, but thanks for the patronising advice.

  • ms Catholic state

    You don’t worry about the vindictiveness and callousness meted out to the defenceless unborn do you?!  So stop wailing about the justice that is to come! 

  • Guest

    Oh, nice, a side of transphobia with the serving of misogyny.

  • Guest

    Really? Essentially, I’ve only seen one argument from the pro-lifers here which is something along the lines of: ‘women shouldn’t have the right to terminate a pregnanacy because my Church says so’.

  • Bert

    So, a heart attack and murder are one-and-the-same?  Auto abortions are natural.  Induced ones are not and are, therefore, murder.

    The cell that results after the fertilization of the egg has his/her own DNA.  Sperm cells have half of the man’s DNA in preparation of fertilizing an egg that has half a woman’s DNA so that the resulting DNA will be unique to the new child.

  • ms Catholic state

    Amazing then isn’t it….so much ‘wrong’ with Christian civilisation…yet you feed off it.  Everything you have you owe to Christians.  Christian civilisation is the best the world has ever seen.

    Oh …and slavery was a terrible evil…but it was also abolished by Christians at a terrible cost.  And abortion will be abolished too.  God wills it.

  • Guest

    gender =/= sex and gender =/= genitalia

    Come on, this is basic stuff.

  • Bert

    Ah, the old twist on Godwin’s law.  As any discussion on abortion grows longer, the probability of someone playing the misogyny card approaches 1.

  • ms Catholic state

    Pro-choicers prevent others ie the unborn children from living.  Not very liberal is it?!  Downright disgusting and illiberal in fact.  Stop forcing death upon defenceless others please.

  • ms Catholic state

    Expect to be very surprised.

  • Atheistophobe

    I’d never heard the word ‘Transphobe’ before. My, how times change. What odds that the next few years will see further enrichment of our glorious english language to include paedophilophobe, Incestophobe, beastialityophobe, polygamistophobe?

  • ms Catholic state

    You’re not interested in logic.  You just follow evil desires.

  • ms Catholic state

    Good for them then isn’t it.  The meek shall inherit the earth….not the pro-aborts.

  • Guest

    I’m not wailing about it, I’m questioning its existence. (though for the record, if your god and your “justice” were real, they would be the most disgustingly, madly evil things in the universe, and I would hope that I had the courage to offer resistance and disobedience to them).

    Also, are you drawing a moral equivalence between my behaviour and yours? If you as a Christian are happy to admit being vindictive and un-Christian in your manner, what on earth is the point in your religion, and where is its claim to moral superiority?

  • Guest

    Science must be the most misused thing in this whole damn debate. Science can maybe tell you if something is alive (kind of, and not really actually, since life is ultimately an artificially constructed concept). But it cannot tell you if it is a *person*, because that’s an entirely subjective ethical proposition. And it is the latter that is relevant to the question of whether something is murder.

  • ms Catholic state

    If you have no respect for natural justice and will not respect the unborn child…then instinct alone should tell you that justice will be done to you and you will suffer as you determined others should suffer.

    The same could have been said to Hitler or slave traders I’m sure you will agree.

  • Guest

    Oy vey… Why are you telling me that those are things that have been achieved? If you’d bothered to read my argument, it was precisely that these causes had been achieved (or at least progressed – we have some way yet to go on many of them). These were liberal and socialist causes that left a mark on society – I was refuting the absurd idea that progressives have changed nothing.

    Or were you confused by the simple use of sarcasm at the start of the post?

  • Guest

    Given your refusal to address my question, it rather sounds like you’re the one not interested in logic.

  • Guest

    You don’t seem very meek.

  • Guest

     Not that I think that’s a bad thing. I think the endorsement of meekness for the downtrodden is a pretty terrible thing that probably helped the continuation of poverty, exploitation and oppression.

  • TheBlueWarrior

    So how much of the Bible have you actually read and thoroughly studied?  There is a fundamental difference between unconditional love and confirming people in their activities regardless of consequences. 

    Taken to its logical conclusion, your definition of agape (regardless of the particular social issue) says “I love you so much, I’m going to step back and let you harm or destroy yourself, well, because I love you so much.” 

    There are plenty of testimonies (google them) of vulnerable women who were being pressured to have abortions by boyfriends, families, etc, and were given the courage to say “no” to the abortion because of a handful of Christians praying outside the abortion facility.

  • Ioannes Patricius

    Lol, life is an artificially constructed concept? You are dangerous hahahaa! My life has no meaning to you, and neither does yours? Shall we all just kill people? 

    Life is artificially created! Snort!

  • Guest

     Except the things I owe to Muslims, and Hindus, and Jews, and pagans, and atheists, and agnostics, and Buddhists, and Confucianists, and followers of a myriad other belief systems.

    Ultimately, all sorts of religions  and philosophies have had adherents who contributed to human advancement, and to human detriment. None of these make the moral or cosmological assertions of the religions any more or less true. Christianity isn’t more true because Martin Luther King was Christian, and isn’t less true because child-raping priests are Christian.

  • Ioannes Patricius

    GK Chesterton 90 years ago…Suppose, for the sake of argument, that I say that to take away a poor man’s pot of beer is to take away a poor man’s personal liberty, it is very vital to note what is the usual or almost universal reply. People hardly ever do reply, for some reason or other, by saying that a man’s liberty consists of such and such things, but that beer is an exception that cannot be classed among them, for such and such reasons. What they almost in variably do say is something like this. “After all, what is liberty? Man must live as a member of a society, and must obey those laws which, etc., etc.” In other words, they collapse into a complete confession that they are attacking all liberty and any liberty; that they do deny the very existence or the very possibility of liberty. In the very form of the answer they admit the full scope of the accusation against them. In trying to rebut the smaller accusation, they plead guilty to the larger one.This distinction is very important, as can be seen from any practical parallel. Suppose we wake up in the middle of the night and find that a neighbor has entered the house not by the front-door but by the skylight; we may suspect that he has come after the fine old family jewellery. We may be reassured if he can refer it to a really exceptional event; as that he fell on to the roof out of an aeroplane, or climbed on to the roof to escape from a mad dog. Short of the incredible, the stranger the story the better the excuse; for an extraordinary event requires an extraordinary excuse. But we shall hardly be reassured if he merely gazes at us in a dreamy and wistful fashion and says, “After all, what is property? Why should material objects be thus artificially attached, etc., etc.?” We shall merely realize that his attitude allows of his taking the jewellery and everything else. Or if the neighbour approaches us carrying a large knife dripping with blood, we may be convinced by his story that he killed another neighbour in self-defence, that the quiet gentleman next door was really a homicidal maniac. We shall know that homicidal mania is exceptional and that we ourselves are so happy as not to suffer from it, and being free from the disease may be free from the danger. But it will not soothe us for the man with the gory knife to say softly and pensively, “After all, what is human life? Why should we cling to it? Brief at the best, sad at the brightest, it is itself but a disease from which, etc., etc.” We shall perceive that the sceptic is in a mood not only to murder us but to massacre everybody in the street.Exactly the same effect which would be produced by the questions of “What is property?” and “What is life?” is produced by the question of “What is liberty?” It leaves the questioner free to disregard any liberty, or in other words to take any liberties. The very thing he says is an anticipatory excuse for anything he may choose to do. If he gags a man to prevent him from indulging in profane swearing, or locks him in the coal cellar to guard against his going on the spree, he can still be satisfied with saying “After all, what is liberty? Man is a member of, etc., etc.”– Eugenics and Other Evils  (1922).

  • Guest

    “Life” is just a word we give to a certain set of natural phenomena that share certain qualities. There is no magic fairy dust that defines living things, they are simply particular arrangements of matter and energy.

    That doesn’t mean I don’t care about living things, it just means that the rules by which I treat them are actually also just artificial and subjective. But I follow those rules no less strongly.

    This might make you uncomfortable, and mean we have difficult moral questions to address, but that has no bearing on whether it’s true or not. Vitalism was discarded long ago as an idea. You can’t point to any magic substance or quality that particularly defines life, and wanting some easy way to decide how to behave doesn’t change that.

  • Ioannes Patricius

    Sorry in my amusement, I meant to say:

    “Life is an artificial construct! Snort!”

  • Guest

     Ok, I await the onslaught of poorly-argued and poorly-formatted propaganda onto our campuses with anticipation.

    Seriously though, I’m glad you have this irrational faith in the inevitably of your victory. The people who are hardest to beat are always the ones who recognise that they could lose, and address the possibility of that by fighting harder and smarter.

  • ms Catholic state

    My God is real…and you are in for a shock when you finally die.  Justice will be served then.  To every action there is a reaction.

    God’s justice is vengence too.  As He said let vengence be mine alone.  Best to prepare while you have the time.