Police force screaming feminists to leave Oxford Students for Life meeting
OXFORD, England, November 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – Feminist abortion activists managed to shout down a pro-life open information meeting at Oxford University, forcing campus security to move the event to a secure location.
Oxford Students for Life hosted an “Abortion in Ireland” information meeting on Wednesday, November 1 at St. John’s College, Oxford University. The topic under discussion was the upcoming abortion referendum in Ireland. The event featured a presentation by Breda O’Brien of the Irish Times and lawyer Lorcan Price, the Pro-Life Campaign’s legal advisor.
One minute into the event, however, about 15 protesters from the Oxford Student Union’s “Women’s Campaign” (WomCam) began to shout slogans, preventing the speaker from being heard.
“This deafening noise made continuing the meeting impossible for 40 minutes,” stated UK Right to Life on its Facebook page.
The pro-abortion feminist mob rebuffed pro-life attempts to engage them in conversation. Instead, they continued shouting, jeering, and chanting from a prepared “chant sheet.”
One chant included, “Pro-life, that’s a lie, you don’t care if women die,” according to Oxford Students for Life (OSFL) co-president Anna Branford.
OSFL secretary Georgia Clarke said, “The saddening reality was that we were not given any opportunity to respond to these hurtful claims, nor give any justification for our views. Instead, we were bullied into silence.”
Branford added, “We had attempted to create an atmosphere in which all views were welcome and everyone would have a chance to speak, but were instead met with shouting, middle fingers and vitriol. Realising that they were uninterested in talking, some of us made signs of our own. I held one that said ‘I’m a woman, where is my right to speak?’, while Georgia carried one saying ‘Is this what dialogue looks like?’”
The noisy interruption lasted for 40 minutes. Security guards’ repeated requests that the protesters leave were ignored. One pro-abortion feminist had an altercation with a security guard.
The police were eventually called when the mob indicated that it would not respect the requests to leave made by the security guards.
“On foot of that, the security guard called the police as [the protesters] were now guilty of aggravated trespassing,” said Branford. “Eventually the speakers were moved into another room and the protesters were left to shout themselves out, but not before gathering outside the window of the second room and banging on the windows while continuing to shout at the people inside.”
Later the speakers and audience moved back into the original room after police spoke with the offenders and convinced them to leave.
Thames Valley Police confirmed with Oxfordmail that officers showed up at the University after receiving a call that the pro-abortion protest had become "disruptive."
"Officers attended the scene and spoke with protestors, who later left the premises peacefully. No arrests were made," said Police spokesman Jack Abell, according to Oxfordmail.
WomCam said in a statement that calling in the police showed that St John’s actions were “a clear attempt to intimidate protesters” who had entered the event “peacefully.” The pro-abortion group said that they were “not protesting OSFL or their speakers’ right to free speech” but were instead “demonstrating that the speakers’ views deny millions of people bodily autonomy, that subject them to forced pregnancy, resulting in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and sometimes death.”
In response, the OSFL stated that they had “received legal advice that WomCam were breaking the law precisely because they were denying our freedom of speech.”
“Considering Oxford SU’s statement that ‘Bodily autonomy is not up for debate,’ they confirm in their statement itself that they were not acting to facilitate ‘open and robust discussion,’” the OSFL stated.
“We’ve received legal advice that had they protested outside, or even staged a walk-out, they would have been within their rights. But disrupting the event for 40 minutes in this way breached the University’s Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech. By ignoring security requests to leave the venue, they were also guilty of aggravated trespass,” the pro-life group continued.
“WomCam of course have a right to freedom to expression,” OSFL’s statement concludes. “But a right to freedom of speech does not mean the right to prevent other people from speaking.”
Branford said it was a “shame” that the protesters didn’t listen to what the speakers had to say: “Had they heard Breda O’Brien’s presentation, they would have realised just how much we do care if women die … and they would have heard the truth about Savita Halappanavar’s tragic death.”
Branford expressed disappointment that the protesters never engaged in a proper debate but also satisfaction that they had failed in their attempt to shut down the meeting.
Clarke pointed out the irony of Oxford’s WomCam “which ought to represent women of the university” acting in a way that “resulted in the harassment of many women present for the event, some of whom were driven to tears.”
The UK Right to Life stated that “the behaviour of the protesters… was not only disgracefully thuggish and abusive bullying, not to mention illiberal bigotry in its denial of the right to speak and discuss of people at a University (of all places!), it is incredible hypocrisy. The very same people who are campaigning for speech chilling PSPOs and ‘buffer zones’ due to alleged “intimidation” of women by pro-life vigils outside abortion facilities – but strangely never substantiated – engaged in bullying of fellow students …”
Praising the OSFL for their composure during the fracas, the Right to Life said the event “certainly illustrated … which side genuinely wants to hear and respect women’s voices, and which side is so intellectually and morally bankrupt that they can only attempt to shut down and intimidate those with whom they disagree.”
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