A Scottish university banned pro-life students from forming a group on campus, saying it violated the student government’s policy on abortion.
The Herald reports the Aberdeen University Students’ Association, or Ausa, recently refused to allow the Aberdeen Life Ethics Society to affiliate on campus. Now, the pro-life group is challenging the decision.
The move was the latest evidence of growing hostility toward students who think all human lives are valuable. Pro-life students face vandalism, harassment and other hostilities on campuses across the world.
In November 2017, the Ausa voted to enact a policy that supports “free, safe and legal access to abortion,” according to the report. The policy also prohibits funding to groups that are pro-life. The intention of the policy seems quite blatant: to censor pro-life information and ban students from forming pro-life groups on their campus.
Pro-life student Alex Mason with Aberdeen Life Ethics Society said the student government has “selectively repress[ed] the freedom of speech of certain students” on a number of occasions.
“Ausa’s willingness to censor dissenting speech, even though such speech is protected by UK and EU laws, should be chilling to any fair-minded student who believes the free exchange of ideas is essential to a university’s ethos,” Mason said.
“The pro-life position is admittedly an unpopular minority opinion on this campus, but it is fully protected by law. The right to speak freely must be equally applied to all,” Mason continued.
Lawson Ogubie, president of the student association, defended the policy to the news outlet.
“The policy states that Ausa is a pro-choice institution and will always stand in solidarity with people seeking free, safe, and legal access to abortion, contraceptives, and reproductive health care,” Ogubie said. “Students are encouraged to challenge or submit policy changes as is their democratic right as members of our students’ association.”
Pro-life students at Glasgow and Strathclyde universities were hit with similar censorship moves, according to the report.
Earlier this year, Westminster’s joint committee on human rights highlighted serious concerns over barriers to free speech in universities.
A committee report recommended groups or individuals holding “unpopular opinions which are within the law” should not be shut down or subjected to “undue additional scrutiny” by student unions.
In America, students struggle with similar hostilities. Students for Life of America reported a spate of vandalism this fall, including pro-life posters being torn down at Woodson High School in Virginia, signs and flags being stolen at University of Nebraska-Omaha, and posters being torn down at Robert Morris University and Kutztown University. The organization has kept track of dozens of incidents of vandalism in the past several years.
Other students have been forced to take legal action against their schools in order to form a pro-life club.