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Student union restricts talks on abortion

University College London, founded in 1826 (Tim Ireland/PA Wire)

Students at University College London have voted to force Catholic chaplaincies to invite pro-abortion speakers to pro-life discussions.

The motion, adopted by 2,002 votes to 818, says: “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.”

The union also voted to adopt a pro-abortion stance and formally affiliate itself to the organisation Abortion Rights.

The motion notes: “On October 31 2011, UCLU Catholic Society advertised a ‘discussion’ around the issue of abortion which consisted of one pro-life speaker. It is also noted that people who held opposing views were invited to attend.”

It continues: “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. Pro-choice policy encourages students to make well-informed decisions regarding their bodies and their futures. When clubs and societies invite pro-life speakers they should also invite a pro-choice speaker to balance the debate and vice versa.”

Kajtek Skowronski and Diana Doat Pinto da Costa, of the Catholic Society of UCL, said: “We are very disappointed that UCLU has adopted this motion to take an official stance on what should be a personal matter of conscience; to limit freedom of speech on campus and to affiliate with an extreme organisation that does not represent the views of the student body.

“We are concerned that this could set a precedent for other such divisive issues at UCL. Societies such as the Catholic Society, who by their nature are pro-life, are now no longer able to express themselves without first warning the union and inviting a pro-choice speaker in order that so-called ‘balance’ may be imposed.

“This goes against everything that the union and university as a whole is meant to stand for. Less than 10 per cent of students voted for this motion. It is hardly a shining example of a representative decision.”

This post was updated on Friday, January 27.