BY Daniel Harkins | May 24 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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Students are leading the way in the battle for life

Victory at Aberdeen University follows Strathclyde and Glasgow success

Major victories for free speech and the pro-life movement are being driven by young Scottish women and men, with the latest win recorded this week at Aberdeen University.

The Aberdeen Life Ethics Society (ALES) won a long running battle for affiliation with the students’ union and can now receive resources to build a culture of life on campus.

 

Following suit

The victory follows similar successes at Strathclyde and Glasgow universities and has lead to claims that campuses are becoming a proving ground for students which are ‘forging in fire’ the next generation of campaigners for life.

13 months ago, the ALES were denied affiliation by the Aberdeen University Students Association (AUSA), which has adopted an openly pro-abortion policy.

However, following similar paths laid out by other pro-life students, the ALES took legal action, supported by Christian Concern, alleging ‘unlawful discrimination’ and the students’ body this week capitulated in the battle.

 

No platform

Alex Mason, a PHD student from ALES, said they had won the fight as ‘AUSA recognised that its no-platform policy is legally indefensible.’

“These types of discriminatory policies have failed at other institutions, so it was frustrating that AUSA wouldn’t listen to our appeals,” he said.

The battle over affiliation, he said, had been a ‘good thing overall’ as it ‘brought attention to the pro-life cause at a university with an extremely hostile pro-choice faction.’

“It’s allowed us to identify not only pro-life students who will be joining our society, but also those students who, although they may disagree with our beliefs, believe that we should have the right to exist.

“It is those fair-minded students that we look forward to engaging in civil discussion over issues in life ethics,” he said.

 

Not alone

“One thing our efforts have shown is that there are also a lot of pro-life students who thought they were alone.

“One of our goals has been to show these young pro-lifers that they can exist in a welcoming and affirming community which seeks to remedy the greatest systemic injustice of our time.”

He added that while ‘there are important roles for all generations in the battle for life,’ young people could lead the way as they ‘often have the credibility with their own peers.’

 

Privilege

He added: “Never let it be said that these battles aren’t worth fighting. Too many people see the pro-abortion juggernaut and decide that fighting is too costly, too embarrassing, or too difficult. But we do not fight for ourselves.

“All of us who have been born are safe from the abortionist’s blade. We fight for our fellow neighbours, our fellow image bearers—those who are voiceless and defenceless. That is a privilege that all of us should be willing to fight for.”

 

Edinburgh

The successes at Aberdeen, Glasgow, and Strathclyde are likely to give succor to pro-life students at Edinburgh University, who have similarly been denied affiliation, after the students’ body there took advantage of an administration error.

Margaret Akers is a former president of the university’s life society and now works for pro-life charity SPUC Scotland. She said students’ unions are often lead by political activists who fail to understand the legal implications of their no-platform policies.

She said she hopes Edinburgh University’s students’ body will ‘be smart enough to know that going the legal direction isn’t smart, they won’t win, and will just waste time and money.’

 

Youth leading the fight

Mrs Akers, 25, said pro-life issues are increasingly something young people are passionate about and that the aggressive policies from student bodies are inspiring them to fight back.

“We now have really informed, really experienced young people coming out into the world [from university] and they are forged in the fire almost,” she said.

“Which is great. We wish they didn’t have to fight these battles but in so many ways it brings attention to the pro-life cause and forms really good pro-lifers.”

 

Strathclyde pioneers

Pro-life students at Strathclyde University lead the way in fighting back against no-platform policies, winning their battle in October last year.

Catherine Farrelly, president of the University of Strathclyde Students for Life, said since achieving affiliation they have held two events and the group has been ‘pretty much left alone.’

“It’s great because it leaves us to encourage a pro-life culture on campus,” she said.

 

Supportive community

She said there is a strong community of young pro-life people in Scotland who all offer each other support.

She added that the personal stories of those affected by life issues is often key in winning young people to the pro-life cause.

Ms Farrelly first become involved in the pro-life movement through her mother, who has multiple sclerosis, and she stresses that the pro-life movement is about more than just fighting abortion.

“Yes we talk about abortion but we also talk about pro-life feminism, euthanasia and cover all bases,” she said.

“We are pro all life and we have to tackle that myth that we are just pro-birth and ‘don’t care after a baby is born.’

It’s important that we say, ‘No that is not what we believe, we fully support helping that mother and child right through life, from the start to the end.’

 

University platform

She added that universities can be a great place to win people to the pro-life cause.

“Hopefully our generation can keep the momentum going and use pro-life societies as a platform to spread the message for life,” she said.

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