Pro-life Students’ Union president forced to delete tweet calling for fewer abortions

A pro-life student has been forced to delete a tweet calling for a reduction in the number of abortions and to remove his role as President of the Students’ Union from his social media profile.

Gabriel Baraldi, a student at Bournemouth & Poole College, published a tweet expressing the view that “abortions should be reduced to when the woman’s life is at risk only”.

Following its publication, the tweet attracted a number of derogatory and vitriolic responses from those who disagreed, including one which said Gabriel’s mother should have aborted him.

Complaints were then made to Bournemouth & Poole College who passed them on to the Executive Committee of the Students’ Union, which is run by students.

The Executive Committee considered the tweet offensive and, according to Archbishop Cranmer, asked Gabriel to delete it and remove his role as President of the Students’ Union from his Twitter bio – a position he was democratically elected to by fellow members of the Students’ Union. 

Responding to the censorship, Gabriel said: “I hope people are happy they got to shut down yet another debate and point of discussion.”

“You haven’t won the debate, you’ve simply suppressed it,” he added.

Dr Rakib Ehsan, a columnist at Spiked Online which used to rank universities on free speech, picked up on this tweet: “Irrespective of your thoughts on Gabriel’s comment, worth having a look at the responses.

“Many left-wing students/activists are unable to provide a coherent opposing view. Shutdown culture and campus identity politics will create a huge wave of low-grade degree holders.”

While this incident may seem small, it is just the latest example of pro-life speech being censored in education settings across the UK.

In what is believed to be the first case of its kind, Julia Rynkiewicz was forced to suspend her studies at Nottingham University over her pro-life views.

The final year midwifery student was suspended from her course and became the subject of an almost four-monthlong investigation.

Additionally, she faced expulsion from her degree after lecturers raised concerns about her involvement with the Nottingham Students for Life (NSFL) society.

Julia believes she was unfairly targeted over her views and has asked Nottingham University to make a formal apology. If they fail to do so, she could carry her case through to the ombudsman and then on to court.

Last year, Strathclyde Students for Life in Glasgow were forced to remove their stall from a university freshers’ fair following complaints from the Students’ Union who claimed the pro-life group breached their safe-space policies.

In what appears to becoming 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.

Student representative bodies at Aberdeen University, Glasgow University, Nottingham University, and at Strathclyde University have all had to reverse their decisions to refuse affiliation to pro-life groups after the groups raised the prospect of legal proceedings.

In 2018, the Joint Committee on Human Rights released a report on Freedom of Speech in Universities, which criticised growing restrictions on free speech and the new phenomenon of ‘no-platforming’ policies on UK campuses and the exclusion of pro-life views.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“Universities were once considered a key forum in which ideas and opinions could be discussed and argued, however, more and more we are seeing attempts to censor the pro-life view from being discussed on campus.

“It’s sad to see the incredible amount of vitriol directed at Gabriel for expressing a view shared by millions of other people his age. The behaviour of both individual students and the Students’ Union Executive Committee sets a dangerous precedent for freedom of speech and expression more generally.”

Pro-abortion MPs accidentally remove buffer zone provision from their abortion bill

A bill that would introduce the world’s most extreme abortion law to New Zealand looked like it would emerge from the first of two committee stage debates unchanged, until pro-abortion MPs calamitously axed one of their own key proposals.

In an inadvertent victory for pro-life campaigners, pro-abortion MPs accidentally allowed an amendment preventing the establishment of “buffer zones”, which prevent pro-life help from being offered outside abortion clinics, to pass unchallenged. 

Pro-abortion MPs had hoped to establish so-called censorship zones up to 150 metres in diameter around abortion clinics.  

David Seymour, leader of the libertarian right-wing ACT Party tabled an amendment to remove censorship zones from the Bill, despite being a supporter of the bill and a staunch advocate of abortion and euthanasia. Mr Seymour brought forward the amendment because he believes that the speech needed to be protected, saying: “I’ve never defended anyone that I like when it comes to free speech, and that’s the test of free speech, you’ve got to protect people that you don’t like”.

The amendment failed, but by a very tight margin, 59 votes to 56, however later in the evening a second part to his amendment effectively passed by accident. 

The second part of Seymour’s amendment proposed deleting the parts of the bill that would give effect to the censorship zones. It then went to a voice vote, where MPs vote by saying “aye” and “no”, which was passed.

MPs then had an opportunity to call a conscience vote on the amendment but supporters of censorship zones failed to do this, meaning the amendment passed. A late attempt by pro-abortion Green MP Jan Logie to save the provision failed. 

While censorship zones remain in the legislation, the parts of the bill relating to establishing censorship zones and making them function have been removed. This effectively makes it impossible to set up censorship zones. 

Currently, abortion in New Zealand is permitted with the approval of two doctors when the pregnant woman faces a danger to her life, physical or mental health, with a 20-week time limit for disability-selective abortions.

If this proposed legislation were to pass New Zealand would have the most extreme abortion law in the world, essentially permitting abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy.

The Bill will now enter a second Committee Stage debate tomorrow, on Wednesday 11 March, ahead of the Bill’s third and final reading. One amendment that will be voted on tomorrow could see the extreme abortion Bill decided by a referendum, along with euthanasia.

Pro-life students continue to be censored in UK universities

A pro-life student group was forced to remove their stall from a university freshers’ fair, raising new concerns over free speech.

Strathclyde Students for Life in Glasgow had displayed educational and promotional pro-life material, some of which offered support to pregnant women and featured a logo of an unborn baby with the words “life is precious”.

Members of the Students’ Union confronted the pro-life group to demand the removal of their material, claiming that it was too graphic and breached their safe-space policies.

Strathclyde Students for Life have asserted that their posters are inoffensive, and drew attention to the fact that pro-abortion activists have a history of trying to deny pro-life groups any presence on university campuses.

Last year, after being threatened with legal action, Strathclyde’s Students’ Union lifted a long-running ban on pro-life groups affiliating with the union. This had prevented the group accessing funding and using university premises for events, .

Catherine Deighan, President of Strathclyde Students for Life, said:

“For our first year coming to the freshers’ fair, we were fully expecting to come in and be treated equally… However, we weren’t provided with this courtesy.”

“We were approached by a Student Association staff member who made us feel very intimidated and uneasy. He ordered us to take down our posters because he deemed them in violation of a new so-called pro-choice policy that the union had put in place…”

“We were told that if we said we were pro-life, this was in violation of their policy. We felt extremely unwelcome and bullied so we had to pack up and leave to protect our society members’ well-being. We have been entirely discriminated against and censored.”

In what is becoming 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.

Student representative bodies at Aberdeen University, Glasgow University, Nottingham University, and at Strathclyde University have all had to reverse their decisions to refuse affiliation to pro-life groups after the groups raised the prospect of legal proceedings.

In 2018, the Joint Committee on Human Rights released a report on Freedom of Speech in Universities, which criticised growing restrictions on free speech and the new phenomenon of ‘no-platforming’ policies on UK campuses and the exclusion of pro-life views.

Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“The case at this university alone is disheartening, but it is part of a concerning and disturbing trend across the UK where pro-life groups are having their freedom of speech and association taken away from them. Unfortunately, there is a lot of social pressure on young people to conform to the pro-abortion viewpoint.

“Having lost the debate a long time ago, it is no surprise that pro-abortion students are anxious to stop the pro-life voice being heard on campus.”

Court of appeal upholds censorship zone outside abortion centre criminalising speech, assembly and charitable support

The Court of Appeal has upheld a censorship zone outside of an abortion centre in Ealing, London. The appellant, Alina Dulgheriu, has said she will appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Court found that the appellant’s rights to assembly, religion, thought, expression and the reception of information were violated by the Ealing Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). Nevertheless they ruled that such violations were justified because of the right to privacy of Marie Stopes attendees not to be seen in public.

Alina Dulgheriu, a mother who herself had been helped by a local vigil, unsuccessfully challenged the order at the High Court last July after Ealing Council introduced a censorship zone around the Marie Stopes abortion centre.

Alina said:

“My little girl is here today because of the real practical and emotional support that I was given by a group outside a Marie Stopes centre, and I am going to appeal this decision to ensure that women in Ealing and all across the country do not have this vital support option removed.”

Alina has challenged the Ealing censorship zone because it prevents the help women need to escape an unwanted or coerced abortion. The broadly-worded Ealing PSPO criminalises, among other activities: any act whatsoever of approval or disapproval regarding abortion; prayer; handing out leaflets with an offer of practical support to women who wish to keep their child; ‘Interfering’ with a clinic user in any way whatsoever

Elizabeth Howard, Be Here For Me spokesperson said:

Eight years ago, Alina Dulgheriu found herself jobless, homeless and alone after an unplanned pregnancy. She’d been fired from her job as a live-in nanny and abandoned by her boyfriend. 

She went to Marie Stopes to get advice on her options, but all they could offer her was an abortion. She didn’t want that  but didn’t know where to turn.

Her life was changed when she met a pro-life volunteer at the gates of the abortion centre who told her that she did have options, that there was help available, and that she could keep her baby if she wanted.

She accepted the offer of help and her daughter Sarah was born. She is now seven years old, a beautiful, lively and beloved child.

Ealing Council has banned pro-lifers from helping women like Alina. Alina has challenged their decision in court, but twice the court have ignored her story.

In five years of the pro-life vigil’s work in Ealing, more than 500 women accepted an offer of help and chose to keep their baby rather than have an abortion. These women have tried again and again to have their voices heard, but they are ignored.

In today’s Appeal Court judgement, there is literally not a single sentence, not a single word, dedicated to the women who have been helped by the vigil, who are grateful for the vigil, and who have given the other side of the story.

This is a very sad day for vulnerable women.