An anti-abortion club at Auckland University could be disaffiliated on Wednesday after students complained about being harassed by its members.
Auckland University Student Association president Arena Williams has called for a special general meeting, at which ProLife Auckland could be barred from associating itself with the university.
An announcement said the association would consider whether the “Prolife Club be disaffiliated for propagating harmful misinformation [sic]”.
The “Right to Know” flier carries the slogan: “Hands up if you’ve heard this before: ‘Abortion is a safe, simple medical procedure’.”
ProLife Auckland today called on its fellow students to “vote down this unjust and discriminatory motion”.
“This meeting is a direct threat to freedom of expression and the free exchange of ideas at the University of Auckland,” ProLife Auckland president Amy Blowers said.
“University is about discussing diverse opinions in an open and inclusive atmosphere. Banning a club for handing out pamphlets that simply advocate a woman’s right to essential health information is discriminatory and flies in the face of everything we value about university culture.
“This meeting sets an alarming precedent – what club is going to be targeted next for simply expressing their beliefs and opinions? University should be a place where people are free to voice their ideas and opinions without being censored or discriminated against.
“We urge all University of Auckland students who value their academic freedoms and who support freedom of speech for themselves and for others, to come to the meeting on July 18 and vote down this unjust and discriminatory motion.”
ProLife said it was being targeted on the basis of a single, anonymous “unsubstantiated email allegation” and that the information it had distributed had not been proved to be misleading.
The club said since its inception it had “come up against unwarranted resistance and intimidation” at Auckland University, where as its sister organisations at Victoria, Canterbury and Massey universities had experience no issues.
In May, Williams said it was “quite uncommon” for clubs to be disaffiliated, but said ProLife wasn’t being treated unfairly.
“The complaints we received were serious because it was about spreading information which could be harmful to student health.
“They were using something which was seen to skew peoples’ views and had included information that had no medical grounds.”
Williams said it was not appropriate for her to say how the distributed information was harmful.
“I think the issue is serious because the people who complained were being affronted.
“Some of the people they were handing out fliers to had already been through the horrible experience of having an abortion, so it’s very, very concerning.”
Williams said Pro Life was trying to “drum up interest in debate” and while freedom of expression was valued, the problem was in how the message was conveyed.
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