15 May 2008

Pro-Life students muzzled in universities in Queensland and Wisconsin

Three emails came in today, from Italy, Australia and the USA, all dealing with the dignity of the life of those not yet born.

The email of the Vatican-based Agenzia Fides carried a report of Pope Benedict’s talk to members of the Italian Movement for Life on 12 May. The occasion was the 30th anniversary of the legalization of abortion in Italy. Here are some points the Holy Father made. Highlighting is by your blogger.

‘It is necessary to bear concrete witness to the fact that respect for life is the first form of justice that must be applied. For those who have the gift of faith this becomes an imperative that cannot be deferred.’

‘Looking back on the past thirty years and considering the present situation, we cannot but recognize that, in practical terms, defending human life has become more difficult today, because a mentality has been created that progressively devalues human life and entrusts it to the judgement of individuals. A consequence deriving therefrom is lessened respect for the human person, a value that lies at the foundation of any form of civil coexistence, over and above the faith a person may profess.’

Considering the many causes that lead to such an unfortunate decision as abortion, the Church ‘never ceases to repeat that the sacred value of the existence of every man finds its origins in the design of the Creator,’ the Holy Father said, while also encouraging ‘every initiative in support of the woman and the family in creating favorable conditions for the acceptance of life, and the protection of the institution of the family which is based on the marriage between a man and a woman.’

Benedict XVI also recalled that, ‘The possibility of terminating a pregnancy not only has not resolved the problems afflicting many women and no small number of families, but it has opened another wound in our societies, already so afflicted by profound sufferings.’
The Holy Father also acknowledged that in spite of the great effort carried out during these years, and not only by the Church, in trying to remedy the needs and difficulties of families, ‘diverse problems continue to afflict our modern-day society, impeding many young people from nurturing the desire to marry and form a family, due to the negative conditions in which they live. The lack of job security, laws that often lack a consideration for motherhood, the uncertainty of being able to support children, are among some of the obstacles that seem to stifle the demands of a fruitful love and open the door to a growing sense lack of confidence in the future.’

Two separate incidents in universities, one in Australia and one in the USA, illustrate what Pope Benedict said: ‘we cannot but recognize that, in practical terms, defending human life has become more difficult today’.

The Australian reports Student body forbids 'anti-abortion' poster. The particular poster, put up by the Newman Society, a Catholic organization, ‘did not mention abortion but featured a photograph of an eight-week old fetus in the womb. The campaign was pitched as being "pro-women" and "pro-pregnancy"’.

Apparently students are not allowed to express pro-life views at the University of Queensland because of a student referendum in 1993 in which only 3,500 out of 30,000 voted. 1,900 voted in favour of abortion on demand.

You can also read this story at CathNews .

Meanwhile, www.lifenews.com reports that a student leader at the University of Wisconsin ‘allegedly’ trashed a pro-life display on campus. However, a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t5NeLyMZUYM ('embedding disabled by request') shows what happened. The pro-life students in Wisconsin got a much more positive response from the authorities that did those in Queensland.


MDHichborn said...

My name is Michael Hichborn. I'm the media director for American Life League. I'm currently looking for pro-life bloggers who would like to receive action and item alerts from us regarding pro-life issues.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please e-mail me at mhichborn@all.org.


Unknown said...

Before readers of this article judge the union president in his actions, you may not know that the union president's hands are tied by the current rules of the union.

As the uq union is a voluntary association, all materials produced by student clubs affiliated to the union need to be approved by the union president. If the union president approves material that is against union policy as previously determined by referendum then the president can be summarily dismissed from office.

In this case the Newman Society put the union president in a very difficult position. They didn't seek the approval of the president for their materials before they distributed it. Then when the president told them that the material could not go out with the official sanction of the union because it contravened settled policy, they cried foul.

It seems that this entire exercise was a cynical publicity stunt on behalf of the Newman Society to gain publicity by flagrating violating rules for union-affiliated clubs - which they were clearly aware of. The Newman Society know full well that they could have distributed materials on campus as "UQ Catholics" or whatever.

However, what they really wanted to do was cause trouble for the conservative union exec and get some publicity out of the whole exercise. If the Newman Society REALLY felt passionate about this issue, they would assemble the 1500 signatures required to hold a new referendum instead of trying to manipulate the union president into breaking the very rules that he has to keep!

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thank you, Thomas, for your comment. The report in The Australian doesn’t highlight a Newman Society versus Joshua Young story. It highlights the fact that a photo of an eight-week-old unborn child has led to a student body being censured.

The newspaper quotes Mr Young thus: ‘I know the Newman Society thinks the union is being heavy handed, but the student union voted in 1993 for free, safe abortion on demand so all women have a genuine choice when faced with unwanted pregnancy’.

This seems to indicate that the ‘conservative’ Mr Young sees abortion, the killing of an unborn child, as a legitimate choice. He doesn’t seem to understand that a procedure that kills is not exactly ‘safe’ for the victim.

The Australian also showed that the ‘pro-choice’ Mr Young is not genuinely pro-choice: ‘Asked if it [the 1993 referendum in which 3,500 out of 30,000 vote] precluded other viewpoints being put forward in debate on campus he said: "It does."’

Unknown said...

fr coyle said:

"This seems to indicate that the ‘conservative’ Mr Young sees abortion, the killing of an unborn child, as a legitimate choice."

Josh Young has never expressed a public position either in favour or against abortion. This is appropriate as he represents students with many viewpoints. What he did do was follow decided union policy as he is required to do in his role as union president.

UQ student said...

In regards to Thomas' comment, I greatly respect that you are trying to get to the truth/heart of the matter--and in the absence of extra information, you and others have only the faculty of intelligent speculation with which to form an opinion. So I'm giving you some extra information now, which I'm sure you'll be relieved to receive. The Newman Society took particular care at every stage to try follow the union's specifications to the letter. It consulted with Joshua Young over exactly what type of information they could and couldn't publish, and altered their flyers, etc. accordingly. The Society was genuinely shocked that, after taking these measures, they were told to take their picture down.

See, the world is not so dark! The people behind the pro-life campaign are sincere and peaceable people. Please support them any way you can, theirs is a difficult job--only a selfless person would volunteer to undergo the tribulation and hateful,verbal abuse that comes your way when you defend life.

Unknown said...

UQ Student,

As an affiliated club of long standing, your club knows FULL WELL that all club material must be approved by the Union President. This is a legal requirement as the Union is an unincorporated association and as such, the President is held to be PERSONALLY liable for all material produced by the union and its affiliates - ie. clubs and socs.

Every O Week the Newman Society gets all its materials approved by the union president. However, with regard to this occasion, your club specifically chose to NOT seek approval. Remember the Gospel of Matthew - “By their works, you shall know them.”

The clubs and socs committee determined that your club failed to seek the approval of the president before you distributed your materials. This rule applies to all club and societies - whether Christian, Muslim, atheist or socialist. Your claimed ignorance on this matter is disingenuous as you continued to distribute this material AFTER you were asked to seek the president’s approval.

This is just a cynical publicity stunt designed to inflict maximum damage on a conservative student union executive whose members have divided views on this issue.

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Thomas and UQ Student express a different interpretation of something factual. What exactly transpired between the officers of the Newman Club and Mr Young?

But the concern expressed by Thomas for the 'conservative' Mr Young and the 'conservative' student union executive - what's the significance of the word 'conservative' here? - reminds me of the scene in Dr Strangelove where someon was trying to prevent a nuclear war by phoning the President of the USA or of the USSR - it's decades since I saw the movie - but has to use a public telephne. In order to do that he has to get some coins and the only place where he can find them is in a Coca-Cola vending machine. However, he is told by some official that he may not destroy private property.

We're talking about the defence of human life here and it is part of student life to do 'outrageous' things to make a point. Nobody was attacked here. Nobody was hurt, though I recognise that Mr Young may have been placed in a difficult position.

But why should his hands be tied by a pro-death resolution passed by a small minority of students 15 years ago? And why should the student body today allow their hands to be tied by that same referendum made when many of them hadn't even started school?

Shakespeare wrote about a law being 'more honoured in the breach than in the observance'. This is usually given a meaning that Shakespeare didn't intend. What it means in the context is that the law in question was such a bad law that the only way to deal with it was to breach it. It would seem to me that the only way to deal with the pro-death stand taken by a small minority of students 15 years ago is to ignore it.

But I also wonder why nearly 90 percent of the students in 1993 couldn't even be bothered to vote, one way or another.