Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Students protest shuts down debate on abortion

The activities of student politicians have come to my attention again. This time over abortion. Now before I begin I want to make it quite clear to readers that I fully support the position of a "woman's right to choose" when it comes to abortion. Their bodies their choice. Ok!

However I was disturbed by the following report from today's issue of the Independent where Niamh McIntyre wrote:

I helped shut down an abortion debate between two men because my uterus isn't up for their discussion

The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups

This was a student activist justifying the closure of a debate between Brendan O'Neil and Tim Stanley called "This house believes that Britain's abortion culture hurts us all". This debate was organised by Oxford Students for Life. 

Not an organisation I would choose to support in any shape or form, but surely debating the issue which cuts across political and cultural divides is a necessary one to have in a democratic society?

Not according to Niamh its not:

The idea that in a free society absolutely everything should be open to debate has a detrimental effect on marginalised groups. Debating abortion as if its a topic to be mulled over and hypothesised on ignores the fact that this is not an abstract, academic issue. It may seem harmless for men like Stanley and O'Neil to debate how and if abortion hurts them; it’s clearly harder for people to see that their words and views might hurt women.

McIntyre goes on to justify her actions by referring to the demonstrations outside abortion clinics by pro-life groups, something I also do not approve of but preventing their right to do so opens a whole door to censorship and suppression that threatens to undermine free speech, the foundation upon which democracy is built.

In order for democracy to work, rights have to be afforded to all sorts of groups and individuals with ideas that we might not like ourselves. Some others equally may not approve of mine or anyone else's but that is their right. It is not their right to stop anyone from stating their beliefs.

Only the advocating of hatred and attacks on individuals or groups should be proscribed in law.

The debate on abortion should not only have gone ahead, those who wished to disagree should have peacefully lobbied the meeting with literature and calmly argued their point of view.

Debate is not rocket science.

More to the point the reaction against the cancelling of the event has probably done far more damage to the cause of abortion rights than the meeting itself could ever have done.

Perhaps Ms McIntyre should reflect on this.

The meeting was cancelled due the threat of intimidation. So much for the "safe spaces" policy that seems to be the rage in student unions these days.

Seems to me "safe spaces" is only a way to shut people up anyway.

Defend free speech!

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