Pro-life isn’t the end of the world
Co-president of Cambridge Students for Life, XAVIER BISITS, gives his side of the story after their run-in with the Women’s Campaign at the freshers’ fair
I wasn’t surprised that that Cambridge Students For Life stall that I helped run at this year’s freshers fair received attention.
That’s what you expect for having controversial views on abortion and euthanasia, and talking about them.
There is also the very reasonable expectation that we be sensitive in the presentation of our views, particularly not presenting any literature that harms post-abortive women.
We therefore very deliberately chose material for our stall that was respectful and tried to ensure that all our volunteers were sensitive and friendly to all the freshers who spoke to us.
Similarly, a huge number of pro-choice students deserve to be complimented for engaging in respectful chats with us. Whilst they may not have agreed with us, they told us that they cannot understand why the Women’s Campaign is taking such an extreme stance against the practice of debate itself.
Then there were the second-years who pretended to be freshers in the hope of hiding their affiliation with the Women’s Campaign, and then dropped all pretences to argue against us being there.
None of which we mind, of course. It was worse when the harassment came, the blockading and interrupting of our conversations and stealing of our leaflets.
Ultimately, however, we’re happy for the Women’s Campaign and their supporters to attend and ask questions at our talks and debates: we want to engage as many people as possible in this conversation.
The lowest blow came when the Women’s Campaign tried to accuse us of homophobia in a desperate attempt to get us thrown out of the fair. The truth is that we are against all discrimination that disregards the dignity of the human person, whether male or female, gay or straight, disabled or fully-abled, born or unborn.
Cambridge doesn’t deserve anything so embarrassing as the Women’s Campaign. It says a lot that Ann Furedi, who runs the UK’s largest chain of abortion providers, last year accused them of “moral cowardice” in opposing a debate co-sponsored by the Medical Society.
Please, someone, found a separate campaign that is civil, scientific and willing to publicly defend the pro-choice side.
The reality is that the Women’s Campaign’s position on the denial of a debate is the minority position. Most students are seriously weirded out by the idea that debate is violence, and that there are some important issues you just can’t discuss. They are interested in the substantive issues, and keen to take part in reasonable and informed debate.
In the meantime, we invite all feminists, ethicists and medics to take part in a serious dialogue that does justice to these important issues, and support us in our endeavours to support students facing crisis pregnancies.
After all, we are grown-ups.