EDINBURGH, November 29, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – According to the National Union of Students, university students are supposed to be left-wing, radical feminist, pro-gay and, perhaps most importantly, “pro-choice”—and anyone stepping outside that hardline leftist political template will hear about it. This was the message directed at a new pro-life students’ group, the Alliance of Pro-life Students, at their launch fundraiser at Merchant’s Hall in Edinburgh earlier this month.
An NUS feminist group, outraged that any British students might disagree with their official “pro-choice” position, organised a noisy demonstration outside the Edinburgh venue, shouting slogans from behind a barricade as APS students and their supporters went in. They made it clear that the pro-life students’ alternative political opinions on abortion and the nature of “women’s rights” were not welcome by the UK’s largest student umbrella organisation.
About thirty protesters were in evidence, organised by the National Union of Students Women’s Campaign and joined by a collection of student organisations including the Edinburgh University Feminist Society and the Edinburgh University Students Association (EUSA). The hosting venue, the historic Merchant’s Hall in the city centre received emails demanding that the event be cancelled, calling it a “disgrace”.
The Edinburgh Journal, under the headline “Student groups turn out to protest anti-abortion convention,” quoted Aurora Adams, president of the Edinburgh University Feminist Society, who said the “anti-women” event was “really inappropriate” since, “abortion clearly should be legal”.
The paper quoted an official statement from APS, but declined to quote any member directly. The APS said they hope to “open up respectful academic dialogue on life ethics,” by organising campus events for all students. Among the questions the APS believes needs to be discussed openly are: “Why is abortion permitted up until birth for the disabled?” and “What about gender selective abortion?” and “Is euthanasia really dying with dignity?”
“As young people, we need to be debating these questions which concern the fundamental right to life. Universities, as hubs of debate on the tip of scientific discovery, are the ideal places for this discussion to rationally open up,” the group said.
The protesters, however, did not deter APS who were pleased with the outcome of the event and are looking forward to their London launch in January. Eve Farren, the group’s executive director told LifeSiteNews.com that what seemed particularly galling to the demonstrators was that APS is an entirely student-led initiative.
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The group’s website says, “APS is run solely by students and recent graduates. We can’t wait to share our vision with you. We want to bring the pro-life message back into our spaces of learning.”
Until the NUS gave them some much-needed free publicity, Farren told LSN that APS had been quietly “gaining momentum” among students on university campuses, “but Edinburgh was our public launch.”
“The protestors are particularly concerned about this organisation because it is youth-led and directed at campuses,” Farren said.
“Often pro-lifers are stereotyped as old and religious so our organisation, which has been started by students and recent graduates, for students of all backgrounds and beliefs, breaks the mould.”
Maria Stopyra wrote in an op-ed https://www.journal-online.co.uk/article/9731-prolife-alliance-a-necessary-measure in the Edinburgh Journal a week after the event that the demonstration showed that the alternative viewpoint is sorely needed on the UK’s campuses.
The attempt to shut the event down, Stopyra wrote, was particularly unsettling. She called it “disturbingly anti-democratic,” and “a clear attempt to prevent an exercise in free-speech from even taking place”.
“It is particularly disturbing that this happens at a time when precisely the issues the pro-life movement tackles, such as euthanasia and abortion, are so widely debated.”
The group is mainly organised through their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/allianceofprolifestudents where one supporter commented that the outrage caused by their presence in Edinburgh was a good sign they are needed, “You good young people have to know that when there is fierce opposition then you know you are on the right path.”
One writer noted the irony that the National Union of Students was founded in the early 1970s, during the worst period of violent unrest in Northern Ireland, to represent equally students of all political stripes.