Pro-life societies are damaging and have no place at university

They represent everything that’s backward in Ireland


In 2012, Savita Halappanavar died because doctors at University Hospital Galway refused to terminate her pregnancy, even though she was already miscarrying. When her health took a dive, Savita’s family requested a termination only to be told by staff that Ireland is a Catholic country. The country’s stance on abortion failed Savita.

Obviously, pro-life supporters are against the legalisation of abortion, a practice which is legal around the UK apart from Northern Ireland. With that belief comes a campaign. There are active groups both inside and outside university students’ unions which have the backing of hundreds of students. And it’s important they have a place to voice their views. It is not, however, necessary for University funded pro-life societies to exist.

That being said, pro-lifers use immoral tactics to guilt trip people into joining and supporting them. The tactics at freshers’ fairs include putting baby dolls on stalls and showing inaccurate foetal pictures with labelled “Does this look like a cluster of cells to you?” Well, if you want to be pedantic then yes, it does. Often believing religious belief should affect secular law, they target students that are vulnerable and impressionable. Statistically at least one student attending any freshers’ fair will have had an abortion. They are likely new to university and their uni should be doing something to protect them. The guilt tactics are unnecessary and deeply damaging.

In Ireland, where abortion isn’t legal, women are forced to find other ways to terminate pregnancies. Abortion isn’t readily available and yet pro-lifers find it appropriate to throw it in their faces, reminding everyone it’s “not in my name”. Was the death of Savita Halappanavar in your name though? They represent everything that is backwards and wrong in Northern Ireland. While progress seems to always prevail, pro-lifers want to undo it, in favour of a stagnant country. What are they fighting for? It makes no sense for them to even be at a Queen’s event, and the fact that they attend suggests they’re not there to protect the unborn, they’re there to tear down people who cannot go through with pregnancy.

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Safe spaces have been a controversial issue for the past year, largely because they’re being used for the wrong reasons. Universities should not be a place of stifled speech and speakers should not always be no-platformed because of their unpopular views. But safe spaces do have a place at university, when used efficiently to put their students’ wellbeing first. You wouldn’t see a Union supporting a society that advocates homophobia or racism. Pro-life groups are the only university society where its main purpose is intended to oppress half its students. So why haven’t universities banned them yet?

Here’s the reality – if students’ unions want to maintain the idea that they represent their students, they have a moral obligation to ban pro-life groups.

Safe space has become a phrase watered down by the banning of controversial figures like Katie Hopkins because she bangs on about fat people, or claims that universities are gender normative for having single-sex toilets. Instead of allowing the issue of safe space to become a joke, students’ unions should be using them to reinforce the idea that they represent and protect their students. Universities need to be holding their societies to account and not support any group campaigning in favour of rights oppressions. It is a failure of any union that still funds a pro-life society on their campus. That’s what safe spaces should be for.