The charity Life has written to the independent regulator of higher education in England to express concern after pro-life students were refused permission by students’ unions to have stalls at three university freshers fairs.
Warwick students’ union said it rejected Life’s application as it had a pro-choice stance.
Manchester students’ union said it did not think the fair was ‘the correct platform’ for Life.
Liverpool Guild of Students suggested that Life could not provide confidential, non-judgmental and impartial advice. It said it had been even-handed as the freshers’ fair did not include agencies which provide abortion.
Universities are becoming increasingly associated not with debating ideas but with their suppression, and in fact this approach began with the silencing of the pro-life movement. Instead of offering support, however, the champions of free speech remain silent, while the advocates of life are treated as more dangerous than the advocates of death – the terrorist sympathisers and anti-Israel supporters whose right to free expression is treated as a mark of a free society. Needless to say, there will be no stampede of human rights lawyers coming to the defence of Life. There will be no choice for students to hear an opposing view, no choice for women and of course no choice for the unborn.
It’s certainly a challenge for Warwick’s Pro-Chancellor Sir David Normington, Permanent Secretary at the Home Office from 2005 to 2011. Perhaps he could lead the way and put freedom of speech at the top of his next University Council agenda, and use this rather cushy sinecure to redeem his spectacular failure to control immigration.
Yesterday Sir David was on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today programme blithely justifying his record and reiterating the prior ‘need’ to fill employment gaps. These, his interviewer could have reminded him, are caused, at least in part, by that very thing no longer allowed to be discussed on his campus – abortion and its extraordinarily high rates of prevalence in Britain.