“When I was growing up,” says James Bundy, “I saw Scotland as a tolerant country where the vast majority of people feel comfortable to share their views.”
But Bundy, the chairman of the Scottish Conservatives’ youth wing, says that today he’s not so sure. In November, he tweeted a petition entitled “Tell the UN abortion is not a human right.” (A UN committee is planning to name abortion as a right, thus putting pressure on countries to relax their laws.)
Bundy, an economics and international relations student at St Andrews University, received scores of responses: “You in the dark ages ya weirdo?”, “If only your mother had afforded herself of it,” and other equally generous and witty comments.
It was, Bundy says, not a wholly isolated experience. In recent years, he says, he has increasingly heard pro-lifers say they keep their views to themselves. It’s not worth the controversy and potential social exclusion, they think. “This growing anxiety, I feel, derives from two main areas: the lack of political pro-life voices among established Scottish politicians and the targeting of pro-life societies at university,” he says.
Pro-life students at Aberdeen and Glasgow would nod along to the second point: both have been barred from affiliation with their respective students’ unions. Strathclyde’s student association attempted to do the same, but the ban was rejected by the association’s trustees after Strathclyde Students for Life successfully argued that they had a legal right to freedom of expression.
Scottish pro-lifers have received some other good news this year: in May, the Archdiocese of Edinburgh and St Andrews set up a pro-life office to co-ordinate pro-lifers and to build a culture of life. Few tasks could be more urgent.