This Union Believes Women Should Not Have the Right to Choose
The Emergency Members’ Meeting took place last week, a supposed bastion of democracy, where key policy issues are open to discussion amongst the student body. Three items stood on the agenda: confidence in the provost, UCLU’s stance on global issues such as Palestine, and a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body.
What began as a proposal defending the democratic rights and welfare of female members soon disintegrated into a thinly veiled pro-life debate, brought on by an ignorant opposition. One gentleman suggested the policy curtails free speech; another questioned its contribution to student welfare. It is interesting that the majority against the proposal were men, and as a male feminist it does make me somewhat uncomfortable that this trend has occurred in a liberal university such as UCL; however, the most important issue is how these members overlook the policy’s key ideas. Perhaps the term ‘pro-choice’ was the only thing they saw in the document, which contains 643 other words.
The greatest point of confusion came from the question of protecting free speech. A clause stipulates that events open to all students, which included a debate on abortion rights, should invite speakers for both sides of the argument. Failing this, an independent chair should be present. Commotion was caused when one member compared it to a ‘bible studies group’ being forced to supply ‘Richard Dawkins’ as an adequate counter. Yet this is an unfair assertion. For such a serious issue like abortion, the only thing that would damage the freedom of members is to leave them uninformed of the whole debate. If the pro-life side of the topic is being side-lined then why would the policy formally assert that the argument must also be balanced at any pro-choice talks?