Abort67, an anti-abortion group focusing on the use of powerful images of aborted foetuses, has been protesting recently on university campuses. This nationwide campaign is an attempt to persuade students to agree with their cause.
By emphasizing the emotional connections surrounding this highly debated issue, the organisation has gained notoriety among those who do not agree with the use of “graphic, emotive sources to gain support”.
Speaking to Impact, President of UoN MedSoc James Lainchbury, stated that, “Regardless of personal views, I believe that it is important for people to be presented with all the facts from an impartial source on a topic as controversial as abortion. Abort67 is not an impartial source. Furthermore it uses graphic, emotive sources to gain support.
“This said, I do not refute the right of Abort67 to protest peacefully publicly. However, I don’t think it’s appropriate for strangers with no prior knowledge of the protest to be exposed to banners with graphic images, as seems to be the case with previous Abort67 protests.”
Abort67 came to the University of Nottingham early last month, prompting the Women’s Network to embark on a cover-up campaign in an attempt to hide the images.
Other universities responded similarly. Abort67 visited the University of Sussex and Cambridge University before arriving at Nottingham.
Women’s Officer at Cambridge University, Susy Langsdale, told Impact that, “I was incredibly proud to be part of the Cambridge Student response. Although we had been following the story of Abort67 going to different campuses, we had received no warning that they were coming on that day. Subsequently the entire counter protest was an impromptu demonstration of Cambridge students’ commitment to women’s autonomy and choice.”
Creating signs out of bed sheets and cardboard, around 40 pro-choice advocates shielded the Abort67 campaigners images from view. One of the signs contained a link to www.abortionrights.org.uk, a pro-choice campaign website. The website contains details of the recent death of Savita Halappanava, who died in Ireland after doctors refused to perform an abortion after she had miscarried, which would have saved her life. Numerous protests over Irelands strict anti-abortion policies have occurred across the country and worldwide in the weeks since her passing.
Catherine Hallifax, the Women’s Officer at the University of Sussex, told Impact that, “Our Women’s Group also held a Pro-Choice Awareness Event a few weeks after the Abort67 protest, so as to show that there was support for pro-choice on Sussex campus and to inform people about the debate.”
Further universities visited by Abort67 include Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol.
Before being interviewed by Impact, Abort67 Director, Kathryn Attwood, categorically stated that, “[I] refute the lies that we were chased off [University Park] campus by pro-abort protesters or that we were scared off by the rain. In fact we stayed an extra 30mins than we had scheduled for that display due to the anti- protesters taking such a long time to organise themselves (we were due to leave by 11am).”
Attwood responded to the negativity her campaign has received on university campuses by stating that, “it’s very telling of the pro-abort position that it’s only rationalisation for abortion is to hide what it does to the pre-born (and at some Unis-what living pre-born babies look like). If pro-abort students believe abortion needs no justification then why cover it up? If its not morally questionable, if it doesn’t end the life of a small human being, if it really is all about choice, [then] why, when abortion is exposed, do its supporters get so angry?”
She went on to celebrate the success of the tour of the UK’s universities, “Many lives have been saved from the violence of abortion and our freedom of speech is now (after some struggle) being upheld”.
Abort67, founded six years ago by Andy Stephenson as a project of CBR UK, modeled its campaign on the slave trade abolitionist Thomas Clarkson, who traveled with graphic images, shackles and chains in an attempt to expose people to the realities of slavery during the late 18th century.
“We are exposing to the public the reality of the injustice done to the pre-born through abortion,” says Attwood, believing that “our future doctors, lawyers, politicians and philosophers attend these universities and it’s important for them to be fully informed on the issue of abortion”.
The campaign does not shy away from negative publicity, believing that “the public’s awareness of us has been aided by coverage of displays, arrests, court cases etc.”, referencing the two Abrot67 campaigners who were arrested in Sussex last September and who have recently been acquitted of their public order offences.
Attwood has hopes in the future of being invited back to universities to “debate on campus with representatives of BPAS or Abortion Rights”. Perhaps as this highly controversial topic becomes increasingly relevant to todays youth, Attwood will see her wish come true.
Pro-Life Group Abort67 To Visit Nottingham University