Monthly Archives: December 2011

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?

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ALL UCL Students can vote on this in a referendum In February:

Today a motion was submitted to the UCLU Emergency Members’ Meeting. The motion was entitled:

‘Support a Student’s Right to Choose – UCLU should be Pro-Choice’.

It aimed to encourage balanced discussion of abortion, raise awareness of the surrounding issues, and support students in making decisions about their bodies and their futures.

An individual has the legal right to choose to terminate or continue a pregnancy and this policy reflects those legal rights. We want to give students the information and the confidence they require in order to make that decision for themselves.

UCLU already does an incredible job when it comes to student welfare and the next step is to pass this motion, to be proud of supporting a woman’s right to choose. We can’t afford to commit to student rights half-heartedly and official pro-choice policy leaves no doubt that UCLU supports its members.

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