Pro-life students at Strathclyde University found an unusual ally this week after their student government banned their pro-life club from campus.
Charlie Peters does not attend Strathclyde, a university in Scotland, or share the students’ views on abortion, but the “pro-choice” student writer is publicly defending the pro-lifers’ rights to express their views and form their club on campus.
In a column for Spiked, Peters blasted the Strathclyde student association’s move to ban the club as a “shameful” act of censorship. He also said the move is bad for the pro-choice movement.
Peters, a student at Edinburgh University in Scotland, wrote:
This means students who support anti-abortion views cannot obtain university funding for events, and are restricted from attending campus debates. As a result of this, pro-choice students at the university will miss out on the chance to flex their moral muscles, and make the case for liberalised reproductive rights. They will graduate without encountering opposite views. This is yet another shameful example of censorship defeating liberal debate on UK campuses, and it’s bad for the pro-choice movement.
The ability to have out, and win, the debate to trust women to make their own choices is being lost on campus. The ban at Strathclyde mirrors a similar censorious move at Oxford, where a debate between spiked editor Brendan O’Neill and pro-life supporter Timothy Stanley was blocked in 2014.
We don’t win arguments by silencing the other side. In order to win the moral case for abortion, we must welcome the pro-life view.
The Strathclyde University Students’ Association recently voted to ban the pro-life students from forming an official club, claiming the group would “harass” and “intimidat[e]” people, the Herald Scotland reported earlier this week.
Peters said their reasoning is just “silly.”
“When I encounter a view I disagree with, no matter how shocking or offensive it might be, I rarely find myself intimidated by it, or afraid of those expressing it,” he wrote.
Not only that, Peters said the student association’s move is insulting to those who support abortion.
“Student-union apparatchiks at Strathclyde patronise pro-choice students, and women, by telling them they’re too fragile to hear the pro-life argument,” he wrote.
Peters’ commentary is an encouraging sign. New pro-life student clubs are popping up at colleges and high schools across the world, but some are struggling even to be recognized. Abortion activists, especially in England and Scotland, are trying to censor pro-life student clubs.
In November, the British group Alliance of Pro-life Students reported it is working with students at three universities where pro-life efforts are under attack. The group said pro-life students are up against pro-abortion feminists who have been petitioning to either prevent pro-life clubs from forming or disband the ones that already exist.
In the United States, a pro-life high school student named Angelique Clark also had to sue her high school in Las Vegas, Nevada after it refused to approve her pro-life club. In November 2015, almost a year after she submitted her club application, she and her lawyers reached a settlement with the school that allowed her to begin the pro-life club.