The Catholic chaplain for Cardiff University has welcomed the defeat of a motion which would have made the student union officially pro-abortion.
Following a vote last night at a student meeting, Fr Gareth Jones wrote on Facebook: “May I take this opportunity to thank everyone for their commitment, hard work and prayers.
“Throughout the preparations for this evening’s debate I was very conscious of the genuine concern for a debate rooted in freedom of expression, inclusivity and respect. I hope and pray that the friendships and conversations will continue. Thank you.”
In preparation for the debate a coalition called “Keep Cardiff Uni Free” was formed and endorsed by the Atheist and Humanist Society, the Catholic Society, the Christian Union and both Islamic societies as well as Students for Life. Following the result, Rosie Amery from Keep Cardiff Uni Free said: “It was a heated debate, and it reflected the fact that feelings have been running high on both sides all week. Students from religious societies made it clear that they felt under direct attack from this motion, as well as the pro-life society Students for Life. Postgraduate officer Ollie Wannell spoke as eloquently as ever against the motion, and illustrated the flaws we spoke about in the week.
“After nearly eight months and at the third time of asking, the student body have finally had their say on whether Cardiff [students’ union] should adopt this motion, and they have decisively voted to stay neutral. Keep Cardiff Uni Free calls on the supporters of this motion to accept the will of the student body. Let’s now see how we can all move forwards together to represent the interests of all students, regardless of their beliefs. These issues have caused plenty of discussion; now let’s see how we can work together to facilitate free and fair debate.”
Students for Life at Cardiff University said earlier this week that clauses within the proposed motion, which were debated and voted on yesterday, would threaten the society’s freedom of speech and expression.
Jonathan O’Connell, president of 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 in the motion included preventing “affiliated societies and groups from taking part in anti-choice protests or rallies outside of abortion clinics and under the banner of the students’ union”.
A further clause stated: “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.”