Edinburgh pro-life society invite anti-abortion group with ‘hateful rhetoric’ on campus

‘This showcases the university’s willingness to disregard the welfare of students’

Edinburgh University’s Life Society will be hosting a talk today, addressing a policy put in place by the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) during the Covid-19 pandemic, which allows abortion pills to be posted to peoples’ homes.

The talk, entitled “Why the Pills by Post abortion policy must end” will be the second hosted by the university’s Life Society this year.

Hosted at 40 George Square, the first featured guest speaker will be Dr. Calum MacKellar, a researcher who previously claimed that same-sex relationships “hurt God.”

The speech has been branded as likely to include a “hateful rhetoric” by Edinburgh’s Feminist Society, who oppose it taking place on campus.

via @edinburghlifesociety on Instagram

This event’s guest speaker, Joanne Ho, is affiliated with the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). She will be leading discussions about the “DIY home abortion scheme” and “Justice for Baby Lily.”

“Justice for Baby Lily” refers to an incident in January 2023 when 45-year-old Carla Foster was jailed for taking abortion pills at 32 to 34 weeks pregnant, having lead staff to believe that she was seven weeks pregnant.

The mother of three received a 14 month suspended prison sentence and 50 days of activity, sparking debate over abortion reform.

BPAS’ comment on the woman’s release was that: “Now is the time to reform abortion law so that no more women are unjustly criminalised for taking desperate actions at a desperate time in their lives.”

On their website, SPUC claims that the policy of abortion pills being posted is “deadly”, saying “it has failed women and has failed babies like Lily.”

In a statement posted on Instagram, Edinburgh University’s Feminist Society (EUFS) wrote: “Based on precedent with SPUC speakers and arguments, there is a high likelihood of harmful rhetoric being promoted on campus by their speaker.

“SPUC has openly expressed a transphobic, queerphobic and misogynistic rhetoric, which is in direct contravention with EUSA’s policies and official stances. Furthermore, this rhetoric actively harms the wellbeing of marginalised students on campus and showcases the university’s willingness to disregard the welfare of their students.”

via @uoefemsoc on Instagram

“We believe speakers representing SPUC should not be allowed to promote harmful and hateful rhetorics which negatively impact students on campus.”

A spokesperson for the Life Society said: “The Life Society has organised this evening’s event to raise awareness of the risks and repeated failures of the Pills-by-Post policy introduced in 2020.

“We are seeking to highlight this issue not only as it has led to an increase in numbers of abortions, but also has the potential to put women at risk, especially those in abusive or vulnerable situations. The recent tragic case of baby Lily’s death demonstrates the insufficient safeguarding around this policy.

“The Life Society always prioritises providing well researched, factual information, and respectful dialogue on emotive issues. We have invited a speaker from SPUC because this organisation has conducted a significant amount of research into this policy, informed by the work they do supporting women who have been affected by it.

“This event and speaker have been approved according to usual university procedures. EUSA themselves have previously confirmed to the Tab that their own pro-choice stance does not affect our standing as an affiliated society. As always, we invite those who disagree with the Life Society’s position on this issue to respectfully attend the talk, and engage in dialogue with the positions actually expressed by our speaker.”

A University of Edinburgh spokesperson said: “The University is clear in its commitment to upholding freedom of expression and academic freedom. We have procedures in place to support members of our community to host lawful events on controversial topics with the safety of everyone on our campus as a priority. The decision to allow an event to proceed does not reflect an endorsement of any views. We actively support the wellbeing of our students and offer a range of confidential and impartial support and advice, as well as signposting to local NHS services where appropriate.”