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One in four UK pro-life students “threatened, abused, alarmed or distressed” for being pro-life at university

Almost a quarter of pro-life students have been “threatened, abused, alarmed or distressed” for being pro-life at university, according to new  poll.

According to polling by the national student pro-life group, the Alliance of Pro-Life Students (APS), over 71.9% of pro-life students report that they have faced situations in lectures or seminars where they felt could not speak about their views.

23.8% of those surveyed said they had been “threatened, abused, alarmed or distressed – by actions or words – by another student or academic” because of their membership of a pro-life society. A further 35% of the participants reported that they had seen events canceled due to the “de-platforming” of pro-life speakers. 65% of pro-life students had “witnessed another student being discriminated against or harassed for holding pro-life views”.

Freedom of expression in crisis

APS polled 206 students and recent graduates and have submitted their findings to the Joint Committee on Human Rights, who recently issued a call for evidence as part of their enquiry into freedom of expression.

CEO of APS, Madeline Page said: “These statistics are alarming, yet confirm what we already know – pro-life students are being marginalised and silenced at universities”.

“Institutional policies which refuse to allow certain topics to be discussed don’t just damage free speech – they destroy a culture of tolerance and respect on campus, ruining the chance for all students to engage with people of diverse opinions and understandings. This was made abundantly clear in the results of our survey which found that [52.9%] of pro-life students have had a friendship or relationship adversely impacted because they held pro-life views”.

“We trust that the Joint Committee on Human Rights will consider these results carefully as they reflect on the current status of freedom of expression in the UK”.

Responding to the new survey, Peri Dalkic, President of the Aberdeen Life Ethics Society reported that her group faced online abuse, their female members were branded “fat mutants” on student Facebook groups and the society had condoms thrown at them during the freshers’ fair.

Georgia Clarke, Co-President of the Oxford Students for Life Society from 2016-17 reported that protesters had become so aggressive that even with security guards at one event, the police had to be called.

Pro-lifers censored

In what appears to have become a pattern at universities across the UK, many pro-life groups have been hindered in their ability to speak freely and enjoy the same benefits as other student societies.

In the last four years, student representative bodies at Aberdeen University, Glasgow University, Nottingham 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. Students at Birmingham University also had significant difficulty becoming affiliated with the university but eventually won out against significant opposition.

In 2019, in the first case of its kind, a midwifery student at Nottingham University was suspended and faced possible expulsion from her course after a lecturer raised concerns about her role in the University’s pro-life group. Only after beginning legal action was the University’s decision overturned. Towards the end of 2020, this incident was closed after the university extended an apology to the student and offered compensation for her unjust suspension.

Freedom of speech at British Universities

Freedom of expression and speech at universities is increasingly being thought to be a widespread problem.

David Davis MP is currently advancing a Bill to protect freedom of speech at universities from a “corrosive trend… that aims to prevent anybody from airing ideas that groups disagree with or would be offended by”.

A recent survey undertaken by Survation for legal advocacy group, ADF International, has found that 27% of university students have ‘hidden’ their opinions that they believe may be at odds with those of their university.

The same survey found that 44% of students believe that their lecturers would treat them differently if they made their views known, and that 38% believe that their future careers might be adversely affected if they openly expressed their true opinions.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “The silencing and self-censorship of pro-life voices on campus is a familiar story. In addition to robust free speech protections, students need to continue to be brave in being outspoken about being pro-life. Groups like APS exist to provide the support and, if necessary, legal assistance so that they are afforded the same rights as any other student group at university. Students concerned about their future at university or future career should make use of the support available”.

“Now that the censorship, which pro-lifers have experienced for a long time, is being felt by others, perhaps the Government will act decisively to ensure that this important freedom, the freedom to express what you believe, is protected from those who want to shut down the free exchange of ideas, especially at 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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