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Students at Cardiff University say freedom of speech threatened by pro-abortion motion

Cardiff students will vote on whether they want to become officially 'pro-choice' (PA)

Cardiff University students are due to vote on a motion this week which would make the student union officially pro-choice, prompting alarm about freedom of speech on campus.

Students for Life at Cardiff University have said that clauses within the motion, which will be debated and voted on this Thursday, would threaten the society’s freedom of speech and expression.

Jonathan O’Connell, president at Cardiff Students for Life, said: “This motion simply cannot be allowed to pass. The university environment has long been a bastion of free speech, which the proposed motion seeks to attack. There are huge implications in enforcing a single ideology or political viewpoint across the whole student populace; not least of all it restricts students’ freedom of expression as well as directly limiting the religious freedom of certain student groups.

“Declaring the university officially pro-choice is akin to declaring the university affiliated with a single political party, which obviously in the 21st century would be totally unthinkable.”

Key clauses within the pro-choice motion include preventing “affiliated societies and groups from taking part in anti-choice protests or rallies outside of abortion clinics and under the banner of the student’s union.”

A further clause states: “Any information about abortion or contraception disseminated, distributed or presented in union or university buildings must be unbiased and not shame those who choose to have abortions, and must be academically referenced.”

Alithea Williams, vice-chair of the Alliance of Pro-Life Students said: “This motion is highly problematic. It seeks to impose a uniform ideological viewpoint on the entire student body, and tramples upon the right to freedom of speech and expression of those who disagree.

“Universities are supposed to be places of free and open expression and debate, and all views, including the pro-life voice, must be allowed to be heard. We hope that as this motion is now being brought before the whole student body, which the original proposers consistently refused to do, the students of Cardiff will not allow this censorious and illiberal attack on free speech to go through.”

The motion was originally proposed at a meeting of the Student Senate in March but it was eventually withdrawn.