83 per cent of Edi students believe the Life Society shouldn’t be allowed to exist

Three quarters of Edi students polled by The Edinburgh Tab didn’t know the pro-life society existed

83 per cent of Edinburgh students polled on The Edinburgh Tab’s Instagram story believe that the Life Society should not be allowed to exist.

The EUSA-registered society “exists to organise talks, debates, and discussions that support respect for human life from conception to natural death” – but only 75 per cent of students knew it existed, whilst 88 per cent said they didn’t think it should be eligible for EUSA funding.

The formation of a similar society at Exeter has again reawakened the debate surrounding the existence of pro-life societies within university unions – including the Life Society at Edi.

President of Feminist Society (FemSoc), Amy Life, told us she found it “abhorrent that such a society should be able to spread misinformation that may cause anyone who’s had or may have an abortion unnecessary discomfort and shame”.

1,010 people responded to three polls on our Instagram story. We also had several students messaging the page expressing a variety of opinions. Some argued the Life Society had a right to freedom of expression – but many others disagreed, accusing them of scientific inaccuracies, sexism, and harassment.

The Life Society’s Facebook page was set up 2011 – and yet only one in four Edi Students we polled knew it existed.

They were also given a stall at this year’s EUSA Societies Fair, despite having not been present at the last in-person one in September 2019.

The Life Society’s stall was also two tables down from FemSoc – whose committee members took pictures pamphlets on the Life Society stall which appear to link abortion to struggles like mental health issues and domestic abuse.  The President of FemSoc has described this as “inaccurate”  and “insulting to survivors of domestic abuse who should not be used to aid pro-forced birth arguments”.

The Life Society also has a Facebook page with 551 followers currently that promotes various pro-life causes and stories.

One post from 2019 appears to show Life Society mocking the sentencing of a woman whose foetus died in the womb due to a heroin overdose by captioning the news post with “rookie mistake, mifepristone next time…”. Mifepristone is the drug used to induce early term medical abortions.

They have also shared a “satirical” video that at one point jokes foetuses “all look the same” – including those conceived through rape – as a way to critique survivors of sexual assault who access abortions.

The Edinburgh Tab spoke t0 the President of FemSoc about the existence of Life Society and she told us she thought their “disregard for those who don’t have the financial, physical or emotional stability to have a baby” was “disgusting”.

She also said: “While we recognise freedom of speech, misinformation and harmful language used to rob people of their access to their right to abortion should not be endorsed” by EUSA.

She then added she thought both EUSA and the uni have a duty of care to students and called on Life Society to be deregistered.

A spokesperson for EUSA’s Sabbatical Officers said: “We are aware of the current discussions around ‘pro-life’ societies across the UK, and petitions calling for the disaffiliation of these societies. We understand that this is an emotive topic and something many of our members feel strongly about.

“The Students’ Association has a legal responsibility to act in our members’ interests; upholding our members’ right to freedom of expression, promoting our values as an organisation, and protecting our members from harm.

“Currently, any University of Edinburgh student can apply to start a society and our role is to facilitate these groups, provided groups are operating within the law and relevant Association and University policies and procedures.

“When a new society is registered with the Students’ Association, we do not provide initial start-up funding for specific activities, although all societies do benefit from access to specific staff support, room bookings and additional resources.

“All groups are encouraged to fundraise themselves or to structure a fee plan for their activities from membership fees and sponsorships. They are also eligible to apply to certain funding pots, to which criteria is usually attached.

“The Students’ Association’s position on issues is set by Student Council, through the passing of motions. Motions passed at Student Council might seek to affect societies, for example by calling for limitations on their activities or on the Students’ Association’s promotion of their activities. Any University of Edinburgh student can submit a motion, and all students are welcome to attend and vote at Student Council meetings.”

The Life Society Edinburgh did not respond to our requests for comment. 

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