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Pro-life group awarded affiliation with Student Union after rejection and delay

Tue 21 May 2019
By Cara Bentley

After 13 months, the University of Aberdeen has allowed pro-life students to have the privileges of other society members.

Aberdeen Life Ethics Society (ALES) is a group for pro-life students to meet and campaign on the issue of abortion.

Last week, they were allowed to be affiliated with the student body after the Aberdeen University Students' Association was threatened with legal action on the grounds of discrimination based on belief.

The case against the Student Association will come to Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

 

 

Until last week, they were denied the privileges of affiliation with Aberdeen University Students' Association, such as ease of room bookings and a place at freshers' fair in September 2018 while the student body decided their verdict. The union's delay also made networking 'impossible' to do on campus, according to a member of the society.

Alex Mason, a PhD student and Christian, told Premier the group were inconvenienced and that he thought it was 'used as a way to shame pro-lifers, despite their views being legal and protected'.

He added that it was a 'small vocal minority' who wanted their exclusion from campus and that many who did not even agree with their stance on abortion did not think the pro-life group shouldn't exist.

 

 

The Aberdeen University Students Association (AUSA) had a pro-choice policy which they said conflicted with the group's aims. They said that the National Union of Students (NUS) also had a pro-choice policy and in March 2017 AUSA had a policy to remove pro-life 40 Days for Life material from campus.

Their student council agreed to support the campaign for the decriminalisation of abortion, to provide students with literature about how to procure a termination and 'to campaign against directive advice groups and offer no funding, facilitation or platform to any such group that may offer advice that conflicts with the advice given by either AUSA or a body/service recommended by AUSA.'

The policy also included: 'AUSA should oppose the unreasonable display of pro-life material within campus and at AUSA events, particularly when such material appears to imply affiliation or endorsement by AUSA or the University of Aberdeen, provides factually inaccurate information, etc.

'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.'

Christian Concern came in to support ALES in April and Roger Kiska from the legal team told Premier's News Hour: "Any association with goals that are lawful should be able to associate, we live in a free society, a democratic society and the idea that a group can be withheld from campus is really not only undemocratic, it's unlawful."

 

Listen to the full interview with Roger Kiska about the society's journey here:

 

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