Controversial pro-life group Abort67 has plans to protest outside Nottingham University on 6th November, Impact can reveal.
The Brighton-based organisation, known for its aggressive anti-abortion stance and use of graphic imagery, confirmed their plans in an email exchange with Women’s Officer Rose Bonner.
“We are indeed hoping to visit Nottingham” says Abort67 head, Andy Stephenson, in the emails. “We are focused on education about abortion, as well as helping women and men understand the facts about abortion”
“This is also a tour about freedom of speech,” Stephenson adds. “There are far too many students in UK universities who believe that if they don’t like a message they should attempt to shut down the messenger by running to the police.”
Rumours of a protest circulated last week among the Women’s Network and members of the Students’ Union exec. It is believed that Nottingham is being targeted because the Students’ Union sexual health policy currently recognises that “abortion is a legal choice”.
Yesterday, Impact reached out to Abort67 for a statement. Employee Kathryn Attwood, who faced criminal charges along with Stephenson earlier this year for using enlarged photos of aborted foetuses in a demonstration in Brighton, said that the upcoming protest would be part of a nationwide tour. “We will visit the university in each city we attend as universities are the market place of ideas, open discussions and debate.”
“Nottingham has a large number of students studying medicine, nursing and midwifery – our future doctors and nurses. It’s important to encourage debate amongst these students about the issue of abortion.”
For legal reasons Abort67’s protest will not be taking place on university property, which means that they do not need to obtain permission from the university for the display. Democracy & Communications Officer Luke Mitchell told Impact that Abort67 “would be trespassing by coming onto campus, which is private property” as they are not a student group. However, they are permitted to protest outside of university grounds in view of students walking to and from campus.
“Although people have a right to freedom of speech and shock tactics are not inherently wrong, concerns have been raised regarding the truthfulness of some of the claims Abort67 are making about the nature and impact of abortion” says Mitchell. “Furthermore, their presence could cause some students to feel unsafe.”
Rose Bonner, who first confirmed the rumours, issued a statement on Thursday on behalf of the Women’s Network. It reads, “We believe if the discussion is going to be had [on abortion] it should be done in a balanced manner and not through intimidation and graphic propaganda.
“Abort67… have no chance of changing the law as it currently stands so they revert to backhanded moves.”
Click here to read the statement by the Women’s Network on Abort67