After the Repeal Launch in UCD, Aoife Hardesty spoke to the pro-life protestors who are calling for a debate with UCD for Choice
The typical pro-life profile is non-existent, as becomes apparent while talking to Life Society UCD members Alexandra Brazil, a Business and Law student, and Robert Lee, a Law with Economics student.
Lee explains “it’s a human rights issue for us.” For Lee it does not come from a place of religion, and he finds it “very annoying when the debate is framed so that…if you’re not religious you must be in favour of repeal.” Lee wants pro-life groups recognised as “human rights advocacy groups,” with religion left out of the equation.
Brazil sees pro-life groups as a way “to have a voice for the voiceless.” For Lee “the right to life is the most fundamental right in the hierarchy of rights. It is the most important because without it, no other has meaning.”
“We tried to organise a debate and that was shut down. [In UCD] there isn’t really another side to the discussion.”
The University Observer spoke to the Life Society at the recent Launch for Repeal by UCDSU and UCD for Choice. The group of 12 had arrived in bright pink “Love Both” hoodies and silently walked to the back of the room where they held up signs that said; “Hope, not Abortion,” “We Deserve Better than Abortion,” and “Real Debate, Not Groupthink.”
Debate is one of the reasons why the group came to the launch. According to a press release from the group, and their Facebook posts, they approached the SU and UCD for Choice requesting a debate. The Life Society say that that request was denied, and instead a panel discussion was offered and they currently have a petition available for students to sign in favour of a debate. Sources within the SU however, have told the University Observer that following the meeting the SU were under the impression that the Life Society were content with the option of a panel discussion. At the time of writing, the petition had gained 250 signatures.
Lee says they believe the “SU’s stance [means that] the debate is quite stifled. They’re for the repeal side, so there’s no real debate. It’s more like they have a monopoly on the discussion… They may disagree with us in the end, but at least have the debate.”
Brazil finds the SU’s pro-choice stance off-putting: “It would be a factor that would put me off in general, even getting involved in the SU.”
Brazil finds the SU’s pro-choice stance off-putting: “It would be a factor that would put me off in general, even getting involved in the SU…It’s important to know that there are others with differing opinions, and that’s just part of life, and it’s important that it’s represented.”
The Life Society UCD is currently not a recognised society, and Brazil explains that this means they’re unable to book rooms to host events on campus. At the moment the group is about “people getting together…We haven’t heard back [about getting society status] and I suppose we would like to get that so we can have events on campus which is impossible without it.”
In this regard, Lee believes the pro-choice side has a major advantage on campus. “We self-fund, so we think it’s unfair that… a lot of money is being given of students’ funds on such a divisive issue. We think it’s inappropriate to be giving huge union funding to an issue that people have varying opinions on.” On the matter of holding events on campus, Lee notes that “UCD for Choice [also] doesn’t have society status, but the fact they can work through the SU means [that they can function].”
Lee thinks pro-life students are let down, and that they are not respected by the SU for their opinions on campus. “We tried to organise a debate and that was shut down. [In UCD] there isn’t really another side to the discussion.” Nevertheless, when talking to people one-on-one, both Brazil and Lee have positive experiences of sharing their beliefs.
“Talking to people one-on-one, people are open to hearing other sides.””
Brazil says: “I think… talking to people one-on-one, people are open to hearing other sides.” Lee echoes this sentiment. “I think when you talk to people they’re willing to hear the other side. People can see it’s a valid thing we’re fighting for. If you say there’s a heartbeat at three weeks, brain activity at nine weeks, these are how we categorise people as being alive, so to say this is not a life is just contradictory.”
For Brazil, “It’s important…that Ireland is a really inclusive society. Saying that a certain group of people don’t matter simply because of their size or age is really bothering to me.”
For people who wish to get involved with the pro-life movement in UCD, they can join the Life Society group on Facebook, and can also contact the Life Society through their Facebook page.