by Tomos Lloyd
Our democratic vote is a key component in our social structure. From government to local councils, to even smaller organisations, voting is essential to decision-making. As such, the Cardiff University Students’ Union (SU) held an annual meeting on the 21st November last year in which a debate would be held to decide the official stance the SU should take regarding abortion rights and bodily autonomy.
Over 800 students participated in the pro-choice motion debate, in which the motion was passed for the SU to take an official pro-choice position. This proposed motion allowed for members from both sides of the debate to voice their opinions and for voters to make their own informed decision.
A democratic vote decided through civil debate. Surely nobody could take issue with this?
Except, they did. Following the result, many individuals took issue with the motion being passed, claiming that this motion served to censor freedom of expression for those with opposing views. Shortly after, the Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform UK (CBR UK), an anti-abortion group, began protesting outside the University’s Main Building.
Not only are CBR UK dishonest in their portrayal of abortion, they also hold little empathy for those that have been through the traumatic decision and procedure. The graphic images used on their posters are acquired from real procedures from abortion clinics. This despicable method of obtaining images is not only illegal but is done without any consent from the individual having the procedure.
So, what is CBR UK’s position?
I would like to make it immediately clear that regarding cases of rape, many members of CBR UK argue that abortion is still unjustified. To reiterate, they argue that even if an individual is a victim of perhaps the most heinous crime, that they should be left with no option but to parent the child conceived during the trauma.
“Not only are CBR UK dishonest in their portrayal of abortion, they also hold little empathy for those that have been through the traumatic decision and procedure”.
Even if it were possible to concede that CBR UK’s position is not immoral, the claim that the SU should not be taking official political stances is another problematic argument.
I contend that apathy to this discussion is a failure to uphold the role of the SU to protect and represent those that use its services. Simply put, the SU exists for the students, thus should be representative of the students.
This debate is deeper than a matter of opinion, it is a matter of evidence. In countries where abortion is illegal, the abortion rate is practically identical to countries where it is legal. In countries where it is illegal, those that wish to have the procedure will find a way, and if they do not die from the procedure, they will be charged for criminal offences.
To make abortion illegal is to punish individuals and to force them into unfavourable circumstances.
The pro-life stance is not truly pro-life, it is pro-control. The control over another person’s body, under the guise of moral superiority. It is a baffling position to decide that a person must have their autonomy regulated and to shame them for failing to adhere to that authority.
Many have taken a pacifist approach to this debate, and whilst I understand the need to remain civil, I fully sympathise with those that are angry at the retaliation from CBR UK and their supporters. This is not a topic that should be approached lightly. Do not resort to violence, but do not suppress your anger.