NUS and abortion

The National Union of Students has decided to launch a "Pro-Choice and Proud of it" campaign.

The NUS, for those who are unfamiliar with it, is an advocacy group of which most of the college and university students in Great Britain are members. It campaigns for better policies and benefits for students, and members receive discounts on all manner of services and leisure activities. I imagine that many of the members join mainly for the discount in stores and on cinema tickets and the like.

Now, this organisation has alienated many of its members by launching a campaign that promotes, among others, abortion as a valid and acceptable option to young women who find themselves in a situation where they are unready for a pregnancy.

I know of at least one member who has resigned his position on the local body and handed in his membership card in protest.

What on earth does a group like the NUS have to do with such an issue?

I find this approach to be underhanded, deceitful and unethical.

The NUS has its purposes and people have joined because they would like to benefit from them, but now the group has come to represent something that its members did not subscribe to at the time of joining. I hope that, unlike my friend, many of those opposed will stay and make it known that this sort of behaviour is not acceptable.

10 responses:

Mark said...

I agree that the NUS' actions are irresponsible. They should not become partisan in this matter.

Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, be they right or wrong. For example, I think abortion is wrong, but then I also think it is the mother's body, even if it is sin to do the deed. It becomes grey when you say what if they're raped? Or worse still, if the 'mother' is 12 years old.

But at any rate, the NUS is acting ultra vires and should be told to shut up.

Barnabas said...

Well you know my feelings on this matter!

Utterly wrong abortion in any form, God forms us and gives us life it's his divine right ONLY to take it away from us.

Merseymike said...

The NUS has always had a policy in favour of choice in this matter. They offer advice to students, and if they had any other policy, then the choice of whether to have an abortion or not, would not be possible.

Abortion is a valid option. They are not suggesting it should be compulsory.It is also perfectly legal, and the BMA recently voted against any restriction in the law.

The BMA are right, and the church, as on most other issues of this sort, are wrong. Im my opinion, of course!

Anonymous said...

Abortion is wrong full stop.

But the NUS shouldn't even say that - they should remain entirely neutral on the matter and they should not actively enforce a policy like that - alienating any Christian, Muslim or Sikh from being able to join, or even just somebody who cannot consciencely support a Pro Choice organisation.
It's disgusting AND illegal for them to do it.

Jo Salmon - NUS Women's Officer said...

Dear Michael,

You're slightly out of date with your post - the NUS Women's Campaign ran the Pro-Choice and Proud of it last campaign in the last academic year (July 2004 - June 2005) - we're not deciding what to campaign on until next week so you are about 12 months behind the times.

We may or may not re-run the campaign, but there are a couple of things you and your readers need to understand.

1. NUS is not bound by ultra-vires - we are not a charity. We can campaign on whatever our members tell us to - from top up fees to the war in Iraq, student housing to a woman's right to choose.

2. I am the NUS National Women's Officer, elected and held to acccount by the NUS Women's Campaign - an autonomous section of NUS where we set our own policy, elect our own officer (me) and campaign on the issues that matter to us. Oh, and it's run by women for women.

3. NUS has also got pro-choice policy, debated at National Conference in April 2005 and passed by the majority of delegates at conference. The motion was written by students and student officers and - believe it or not - reflects student opinion because every voting delegate at conference was elected by the students in their college to go and represent their views. You don't get anything much more democratic than NUS conferences and policy debates.

4. Individuals cannot join NUS - you become a member by registering to study at a college or university which affiliates to NUS. even if you don't pick up your NUS card, you are still a member from the day your course starts to the day it ends. You can opt-out of membership of your local student union, but you are still entitled to representation and core services even if you leave. And you can't "leave" NUS as you can't "join".

5. What does abortion and women's reproductive rights have to do with NUS? Everything. The largest group of women who access an abortion are in the 16-24 age group - I know that the demographics student population changes every year, but I am sure you agree that many students are aged 16-24.

What's more, we are pro-choice (and proud of it!) because every 6 minutes a woman dies as a result of an unsafe illegal abortion - making abortion illegal does not stop women from accessing one.

It's my body and it should be my choice.

Not yours, not my doctor's, not society's.

My body. My choice.

Michael said...

Dear Jo,

Good to have you here.

Many thanks for clarifying matters as well. Perhaps you could clarify another for me. When you say it's your body and it should be your choice, are you referring to the baby's as well as your own?

"We can campaign on whatever our members tell us to - from top up fees to the war in Iraq, student housing to a woman's right to choose."

Through selective listening, seemingly. Do you ignore all contact or is it just the correspondence that you receive from pro-life NUS members that you don't respond to?

Should people have a choice? Of course they should. As a Christian, I can state no other, for human free-will is a basic Christian concept. So is everybody's right to life - and that includes the vulnerable: those dependent on others for their survival.

Thank you for the information about the number of women who die. It is another of the things that saddens me about this entire mess, and I shall remember them in prayer.

Jo Salmon - NUS Women's Officer said...

I'm talking about my own body and my right to make my own reproductive choices - including when and if to have children. However, unlike many in the anti-choice camp, I have no desire to impose my choices on other women - that's why it's a pro-choice policy and a pro-choice campaign, examining all sides of the issue and doing what we can to ensure that women can make the choice that suits them and can access the help and support they need -regardless of the choice.

As for our policy and campaigns, did you not read my post? Even if I disagreed with the pro-choice policy (which I don't) I would still have a democratic mandate to fulfil the motion resolutions - in this case, to campaign for a woman's right to choose.

Policy is not made through correspondence or blog posts - it made through motions and debate at our sovereign body - NUS National Conference and, for the NUS Women's Campaign, NUS Women's Conference.


Michael said...

I hear what you're saying. I'm not going to get into the rights/wrongs of abortion, as it has been done to the death elsewhere and I know that there is seldom, if ever any convergence.

I'm not challenging what you say about women's rights over their own bodies. I'm merely pointing out that their own bodies are not the only ones affected by abortion.

Yes, I did read your post. It was wrong of me to link policy-making with the specific incident to which I was referring, which was your failure to respond to the personal correspondence of a member of the NUS, in which she politely asked for clarification of the Union's position.

Her message was polite, but she felt a sense of misrepresentation at the hands of the NUS for publicly promoting, without consultation, something which she, as a member, may have been uncomfortable with, and she was already uneasy with what she saw as a quiet and sneaky way of introducing the campaign. She was unsure whether or not it was something that she would be comfortable and so tried to make contact with you for clarification. Your failure to reply in any form, even to tell her to get lost (if that is what you felt upon reading her mail), has confirmed her suspicions that the proponents of this campaign are not willing to listen to dissenting voices within this organisation.

Her understanding of the structures and procedures of the NUS may have been flawed, but whatever suspicions she had have been confirmed by your silence. She has now publicly posted her original e-mail to you, and seems rather disenfranchised within the NUS, when a simple reply could have perhaps cleared up any misunderstandings. I shall point her in the direction of this blog, although I fear she may currently be away.

Jo Salmon - NUS Women's Officer said...

Hmm, feeling puzzled.

Please ask her to email me again as I've answered every email I have received on the subject.


Anonymous said...


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Someday in a month, sometime in future, I will let you know who I am in my sig line on the ship. Until then, this is the very last comment I am making on your blog. I like mystery.

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