Concerns As Anti-Abortion Club Convenes on Campus

A club aiming to foster “discussion and debate on the issues of abortion and euthanasia” held its inaugural AGM this afternoon, with some attending deriding the meeting as a circus.

LifeChoice UNSW (LifeSoc) is a pro-life society primarily interested in pushing an anti-abortion agenda.

Its counterpart at the University of Sydney, LifeChoice USYD, was set up earlier this year in the face of a series of protests claiming the club was anti-woman.

The meeting, attended by approximately 30 people, saw a dramatic display of events, with students opposed engaged in a creative display of filibustering.

SRC Education Officer David Bailey-McKay calling for a motion for the club’s constitution to be written in Latin, whilst Keiran Adair heckled relentlessly, at one time reciting the introduction to a world politics textbook to stall progress.

Concerns were raised by some, including student Dylan Kelly-Moore, that the majority of members in support of LifeSoc were men. One student opposed to the club raised the idea that the aims of the club should be amended to include respect for women, but was told this was implied in the club’s aim of “promoting the dignity of human life from conception till natural death.”

Kim Lowe, SRC Women’s Officer in 2011, told Tharunka it was clear that members of LifeSoc voted against respecting women.

Members of the University of Sydney chapter of LifeChoice have openly called for the abolishment of abortion rights for women.

There, outraged students appealed to the University of Sydney Union (USU) board and Clubs & Societies (C&S) committee to have the pending affiliation of the club rejected.

The club was eventually approved amidst controversy. Ron, a member of LifeChoice USYD, said he was proud the club was going ahead.

“The tide is turning! Future leaders of society come from great universities like Sydney University and if we can just light a pro-life spark in some of them then that day when we finally abolish abortion will come that much closer. I cannot wait!”

The UNSW LifeSoc AGM elected Anna Fernon as the inaugural President.

Sources within Arc’s Student Development Committee (SDC), the body that oversees club affiliation, told Tharunka that it was possible the club had not informed them of where the AGM would be held.

SDC guidelines requires a 7 day notice period with the room details for the AGM to be valid.

According to some attending, it was clear that non-Arc members were voting for LifeSoc’s executive. The chair of the meeting, Matthew Lennon called for the meeting to be cut short following these elections.

If affiliated, LifeSoc will be eligible for Arc subsidies and grants for meetings and events.

Kieran Adair told Tharunka that a decision to affiliate the club would be a disgrace, and is planning a petition against affiliation.

“A decision by the SDC to allow this club to affiliate with Arc and access student funding is an affront to all students on this campus,” he said.

When approached about the matter, Chris Antonini, SDC Convenor, told Tharunka he couldn’t comment of the specifics of LifeSoc’s affiliation.

“However, all applications for affiliation must comply with the affiliation policy. When non-compliant, prospective clubs may have to reconvene a general meeting to ensure due process is followed.”

Renee Griffin