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Aberdeen students complain about pro-life poster...in a Catholic Chaplaincy

15 March 2017


The upset students in front of the chaplaincy window displaying the poster. Image: KENNY ELRICK, Aberdeen Press and Journal

Students at Aberdeen University have expressed outrage that a 40 Days for Life poster is being displayed - at the Catholic Chaplaincy.

A number of students have signed an open letter calling on the Aberdeen chaplaincy to remove posters advertising 40 Days for Life, which is currently running a peaceful prayer vigil outside Aberdeen Maternity Hospital. The posters invite people to mark Lent with "40 days of prayer and fasting for an end to abortion".

"Harmful and distressing"

The letter, signed by several members of the Student's Union and groups such as the feminist society, says: "We feel these [posters] are harmful and make our campus a distressing place."

It goes on to say that "while we understand the church's stance on reproductive issues, we feel that it is deeply inappropriate to display posters encouraging people to take action outside maternity clinics...Our campus is a place for discussion but displaying material that appears to condemn those who have had abortions is actively harmful. Students, staff and others should be able to walk about campus without feeling attacked by the material that is displayed."

A Catholic building displaying pro-life material? Shock horror!

The Catholic Chaplaincy is owned by the Diocese of Aberdeen, and is not controlled by the Students Union. A University of Aberdeen spokesman responded to the letter, saying: "Our attention has been drawn to two small posters in support of the 40 Days for Life campaign which are displayed in the window of the Catholic Chaplaincy.

"This building forms part of the Catholic Diocese and as such, is not a university-owned or managed facility so falls outwith our control."

Half a million unborn lives lost

A spokesman for the Bishop of Aberdeen defended the chaplaincy, saying: "Freedom of speech and expression should be at the heart of academic life.

"The decision by the Catholic chaplaincy to display a poster advertising a peaceful pro-life vigil cannot in any way be deemed harmful or distressing.

"The 40 Days for Life Vigils are peaceful, yet poignant reminders of the tragic reality of abortion. Almost half a million unborn lives have been lost in Scotland since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed and it continues to carve a deep scar on our society."

Increasing intolerance

Jenny Killin, the student association’s welfare officer, appeared to deny that the letter was an attack on free speech, saying: "Freedom of speech should never be used as an accuse to attack individuals who are exercising bodily autonomy or accessing healthcare."

Michael J Robinson, Director of Communication for SPUC Scotland said: "The situation at the University of Aberdeen is another demonstration of the increasing intolerance of Student Unions in Scotland, towards people or organisations that respect basic human rights. In their world no one is permitted to disagree with them or hold a differing world view."

Mr Robinson added: "Universities should be the very places where individuals can share their ideas, express their views and debate them. 40 Days for Life is a wonderful project and one that promotes, though peaceful means the importance of the basic human right to life."

News in brief:

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Comments (5)
  • Morag Buchan

    15 March 2017, 7:00pm

    As someone who lives in Aberdeen I was shocked. Outside a maternity hospital is not the place for a vigil of this sort however well intentioned.

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  • ANN FARMER

    15 March 2017, 7:50pm

    A maternity hospital that kills unborn babies instead of caring for them and their mothers is the real scandal.

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  • Clare McCullough

    16 March 2017, 10:50pm

    Perhaps you don't know what 40 Days for Life really does Morag? Hundreds of women, who felt that they had no other choice but abortion have asked people at 40 Day's Vigils for help to keep their babies, and have received it. I have been privileged to help dozens of these women in London. Many of them were offered no alternatives to abortion that actually solved their problems while they were in the abortion centre or hospital. There is no desire or intention to cause distress, just prayer and an offer of help for those who swish to accept it.

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  • Lise Sharkey

    27 March 2017, 10:21am

    I agree with Anne Famer and Clare McCullough

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  • Lise Sharkey

    27 March 2017, 10:24am

    I agree with all of this:
    'Spokesman for the Bishop of Aberdeen defended the chaplaincy, saying: "Freedom of speech and expression should be at the heart of academic life.
    "The decision by the Catholic chaplaincy to display a poster advertising a peaceful pro-life vigil cannot in any way be deemed harmful or distressing.
    "The 40 Days for Life Vigils are peaceful, yet poignant reminders of the tragic reality of abortion. Almost half a million unborn lives have been lost in Scotland since the 1967 Abortion Act was passed and it continues to carve a deep scar on our society."'
    Abortion is the taking of life. It is murder. Your God-given conscience tells you that

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