Dundee University Students’ Association bans anti-abortion group from freshers’ fayre

Clare McGraw and Joanne McCourt of the Dundee branch of the Society for the Protection of the Unborn Child.

A controversial group with hardline anti-abortion views has been banned from Dundee University freshers’ fayre.

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) was told it could not take a stall because of its “highly offensive” campaigning material.

SPUC’s local official described thedecision as a blunt attempt to silence one side of an important debate.

Local Catholic church leader the Bishop of Dunkeld Stephen Robson joined the criticism of fayre organisers, DundeeUniversity Students’ Association (DUSA).

An SPUC stall had been included in every freshers’ fayre events to tell new undergraduates about organisations and societies for students since 2004 until last year when it was crowded out by a lack of space.

The student representative council then voted unanimously to ban the organisation for future fayres starting from this Saturday.

They said their objection was only to SPUC and they would be happy to host a student’s society with pro-life views.

SPUC actively campaigns for causes directly in conflict with DUSA’s constitution including oral, emergency and injectable contraceptives, abortion, same-sexmarriage, IVF and surrogate motherhood.

Douglas Schreiber, vice-president of DUSA, said SPUC’s last stall had literary material and foetal models which were “highly offensive”.

He added: “We have students on campus who have had abortions in the past and there was clearly some distress felt by a number of the students that attended the fayresurrounding this issue.

“The students largely do not want anything to do with a group that promotes the removal of rights over bodily autonomy for over half the student population that attend this university.”

Clare McGraw, secretary of the Dundee branch of SPU, said: “DUSA’s attitude is sad and disappointing. They say they want to listen to both sides of the debate but by denying us access they are silencing one side.

“They want women to be informed about the choices they may make in life, but female students at the freshers’ fayre are being denied the fullest information that would allow them to make up their minds.

“The foetal models that they are objecting to are the same as those used in schools to educate pupils about human development, and this has not caused problems.”

Bishop Robson said: “While many lobby groups and political activists promote pro-choice positions on a range of moral issues, SPUC constantly bring into focus the rights of the unborn child.

“It is a pity that the many young and intelligent members of DUSA cannot see that there are many sides to the debate about the origins and beginnings of human life.

“It is sad that in our modern democracy, which believes in the importance of the freedom of speech, something as noble as the struggle for the protection of innocent and vulnerable unborn human life in the womb cannot even be discussed.”

The president of DUSA Iain MacKinnon said their objection was only to SPUC and they would be happy to host a students’ society with pro-life views.