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July 23, 2012 | by  | in News |
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Pro-Life Lives

AUCKLAND ANTI-ABORTION CLUB SAVED BY FREEDOM OF SPEECH

A move to disaffiliate anti-abortion group ProLife from Auckland University Students’ Association (AUSA) was defeated last week, following a debate over the right to freedom of speech on a university campus.

Auckland University students voted 227- 125 against the disaffiliation of ProLife, at a special general meeting (SGM) held in the university quad last Wednesday.

ProLife distributed pamphlets in May as part of a nationwide “Right to Know” campaign. The pamphlet outlines alleged risks associated with having an abortion.

An anonymous complaint, stating that the pamphlet contained “misleading health information”, was sent to the AUSA.

Following the complaint, AUSA President Arena Williams called for the SGM to be held where students voted on whether ProLife should be disaffiliated for “propagating harmful misinformation”.

ProLife Auckland President, Amy Blowers, felt that the SGM was a “direct threat to freedom of expression”.

“University is about discussing diverse opinions in an open and inclusive atmosphere,” she said.

ProLife Auckland’s sister club, LifeChoice Victoria was also concerned about the threat to freedom of speech.

LifeChoice Victoria President, Mary-Anne Evers said, “We don’t want AUSA’s actions to send a message to other university students’ associations that they can choose which clubs they do or don’t want on campus based on the personal views of the Executive members, or a particular group on campus.”

However, Williams said that while freedom of speech was valued, the problem was in how the message was conveyed.

“The complaints we received were serious because it was about spreading information which could be harmful to student health,” Williams said.

“[ProLife] were using something which was seen to skew peoples’ views and had included information that had no medical grounds.”

ProLife said it was being targeted and that the allegations that it provided “misleading health information” had not been proven.

Family Planning national medical adviser Dr Christine Roke said most of the studies quoted in the pamphlet were now outdated.

“[Though] there is some small amount of evidence that premature births may be just a little more common after an abortion,” said Roke.

Following the SGM, AUSA Clubs Officer Kit Haines did not favour disaffiliating clubs.

“This is not whether you are pro-life or pro- choice … but whether you think their actions are worth disaffiliating is the question.”

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