University motion orders pro-life groups to invite pro-abort speakers, declares campus ‘pro-choice’
LONDON, January 31, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The students’ union of University College London has passed a motion this week officially making the campus “pro-choice.” The motion also dictates that campus groups, including the chaplaincies, must invite pro-abortion speakers to their events in equal numbers to pro-life speakers when addressing “terminations.”
The motion, to “support a student’s right to choose – UCLU should be pro-choice,” was passed on January 26th by 2,002 votes to 818. It formally affiliates students, whether pro-life or not, with a professional abortion lobby organization, Abortion Rights.
The motion assures pro-life students that the Union will not attempt to force or pressure pro-life students to have abortions: “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.”
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Kajtek Skowronski, a second year medical student at UCL, told LifeSiteNews.com the motion’s passage means the Union has effectively shut down pro-life opinions being disseminated on campus, a clear violation of freedom of expression.
The motion was proposed in response to a lecture in October, sponsored by the campus Catholic Society, titled “Abortion: The Contemporary Taboo,” featuring a talk by Lord David Alton. The meeting was followed by a lengthy question and discussion period during which students voiced varying opinions and ideas on abortion.
Skowronski commented that this free ranging exchange of ideas and opinions was “not acceptable” to some of those present, specifically the UCL Women’s Network who complained to the students’ union and proposed a campus-wide vote on a motion banning such events in the future.
One of the propositions in the motion states, “This Union believes: That both men and women have the right to exercise complete control over their own bodies and this includes the right to decide whether to terminate a pregnancy or not.”
Skowronski called the motion “patronising,” and an “offence to the intelligence of students,” pointing out that the university boasts 24,000 students from many different countries, with different cultures and religious beliefs. “Making such a strong ethical statement on behalf of those people is ridiculous,” he said.
The motion requires pro-life groups to inform the Union in advance of events “so that pro-choice campaigns have the opportunity to campaign at the same time with an equal budget and an equal amount of advertising space and vice versa.” All future open events, the motion states, must invite both an “anti-choice” and pro-choice” speaker “to ensure there is a balance to the argument.”
Skowronski said that this effectively prevents any club or campus society from identifying itself as exclusively pro-life and that such groups are prevented from “expressing their beliefs on campus.”
“To impose so-called ‘balance’ upon people’s deeply held beliefs is insulting, and a restriction of freedom of speech,” he said.
“Limiting the freedom of societies to express pro-life views is an insult to what University stands for: the exploration of new ideas and freedom of speech,” he added.
Neil Addison, an author, lawyer and expert on religious discrimination law, said that the motion is “completely illegal” under The Education Act 1986, and under Articles 9, 10, and 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
“The Student Union has no right to dictate what speakers are invited by student organizations.
“Also the resolution assumes that everyone involved in this debate can be easily categorized as ‘pro-life’ or ‘pro-choice’ which is a simplistic analysis. What right does the Student Union have to decide which category a speaker should be classified under?”
The students who passed this motion, Addison said, have adopted an essentially totalitarian and intolerant stance “unworthy of an Academic Institution.
“Hitler and Stalin would be proud of them.”
Ironically, at the same time, the UCLU passed another motion on an unrelated topic, stating that for the Union to take sides “in complex on-going international issues is beyond its remit.” Doing so, the second motion said, “inevitably alienates certain student groups on campus, which goes against its core objectives and values.”
UCL is “a modern, outward-looking institution, committed to engaging with the major issues of our times… with a global reach and global vision.”
The second motion, addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and passed by a vote of 1337 to 1005, stated, “UCLU’s function is to ensure that the diversity of its Membership is recognised and that equal access is available to all Members of whatever origin or orientation.”
The second motion held that having the Union frame the debate on campus by taking a partisan position, would result in “stifling genuine debate.” Instead of taking sides on the conflict, “the Union should facilitate genuine public discussion [on] campus”.
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