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Midwifery student wins apology and settlement from University after facing suspension for being pro-life

A midwifery student,  who faced suspension from her studies due toher involvement in the university pro-life society, has won an apology and payout from her university.

Julia Rynkiewicz, 25, faced suspension from the University of Nottingham and a four-month-long fitness-to-practice investigation in 2019 as a result of lecturers raising concerns about her being pro-life.

In January of this year, university officials U-turned on their decision and dismissed the case against her. Julia asked for an apology “as a matter of justice” so that “they realise they have done wrong and will change it so that no one else has to go through what I have”.

After a formal complaint was filed, the university has now conceded a settlement and apology.

Putting my life on hold

Julia said: “Putting my life on hold because of an unjust investigation was really difficult, both mentally and emotionally”.

“The settlement demonstrates that the university’s treatment of me was wrong, and while I’m happy to move on, I hope this means that no other student will have to experience what I have”.

“What happened to me risks creating a fear among students to discuss their values and beliefs, but university should be the place where you are invited to do just that”.

A University of Nottingham spokesperson said: “While all universities take fitness-to-practice considerations extremely seriously, the university has offered an apology and settlement to Ms Rynkiewicz and is considering how we might approach such cases differently in future”.

“The university and Students’ Union supports the rights of all students to bodily autonomy and access to safe, legal abortion services, which is the position in law”.

“Universities should be spaces to debate, discuss and disagree points of view, and with more than 200 student societies, covering the full range of beliefs and perspectives, we are confident this is the case at Nottingham”.

Pattern of discrimination

Julia had served as president of the student pro-life group, Nottingham Students for Life (NSFL), which itself was initially denied affiliation to the Students’ Union. This viewpoint discrimination only ended after NSFL threatened legal action and the decision was overturned in July 2019.

One of the chief concerns surrounding her fitness-to-practice investigation was Julia’s public involvement with NSFL.

The University of Nottingham is not alone in this kind of viewpoint discrimination. In the last three years, student representative bodies at Aberdeen University, Glasgow University and Strathclyde University have all tried to prevent student pro-life groups from being affiliated with their university and benefiting from the same privileges available to any other student group. In each of these cases, the student unions had to reverse their decision after the groups threatened legal proceedings against them. Pro-life students at the University of Birmingham also faced significant opposition in the formation of their group.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said: “It’s good to see the university admitting its wrongdoing. The fact that this happened at all though, is a strong indication that the university does not take its commitment to debate and discussion seriously”.

“Worryingly, 38% of students fear their future careers would be adversely affected if they express their true opinions. So long as universities continue to discriminate against mainstream views, pro-life and others, debate and discussion will continue to be stifled and students will increasingly fear reprisals from their university”.

Help stop abortion up to birth for babies with disabilities including Down's syndrome & club foot

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Dear reader

In 2020, the UK Government imposed an extreme abortion regime on Northern Ireland, which included a provision that legalised abortion right up to birth for disabilties including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot.

A new Bill has been launched at the Northern Ireland assembly that will remove the current provision that allows abortion for ‘severe fetal impairment’.

It is under these grounds in the regulations that babies with disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot can currently be singled out for abortion in Northern Ireland because of their disability and can be aborted right up to birth.

Before the new abortion regime was imposed on Northern Ireland in 2020, disability-selective abortion for conditions such as Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot was not legal and there was a culture of welcoming and supporting people with these disabilities rather than eliminating them.

This is reflected directly in the latest figures (2016) from the Department of Health in Northern Ireland, which show that while there were 52 children born with Down’s syndrome in Northern Ireland, in the same year only 1 child from Northern Ireland with Down’s syndrome was aborted in England and Wales. 

This contrasts with the situation in the rest of the United Kingdom where disability-selective abortion has been legal since 1967.

The latest available figures show that 90% of children diagnosed with Down’s syndrome before birth are aborted in England and Wales.

We are, therefore, asking people like you to take 30 seconds of your time and add your support to the campaign to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot in Northern Ireland.

If you live in Northern Ireland: 
Ask your MLAs to vote to stop abortion up to birth for disabilities including Down’s syndrome, cleft lip and club foot:

If you live outside Northern Ireland: 
Show your support by signing this petition in support of the Bill:

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