Following a decision made by the attendees of Guild Summit 27th November, a referendum will be held to answer whether the Liverpool Guild of Students should fully adopt a pro-choice position.
The idea, submitted using the Guild’s Change It system in 2018 called for Liverpool Guild of Students to “fully adopt a pro-choice position” and undertake action to support students who campaign on this issue. You can see the full Change It idea here: Abortion Rights – Liverpool Guild is Pro-Choice!
Voting opens 9am on the 11th March and closes at 2pm on the 15th March
Why a Referendum?
As per the Guild’s democratic process, the idea was referred to Guild Summit – a consensus decision making body made up for 50 randomly selected students, chosen to reflect the demographics of the University of Liverpool. It was then decided that the Guild should hold a ballot in which all students could vote.
Ordinarily all student votes on issues from Guild Summit would take the form of a Preferendum in which there are a three options. However, in this instance the Guild’s Board of Trustees could not find a viable third option and have instead instructed the Guild to hold a Yes, or No vote on whether or not they agree with the idea as it was proposed.
Vote YES for a Pro-Choice Guild!
The Guild’s mission statement includes their aim to “support students” and it’s vision is to “improve, develop and enrich the lives of all students”. Knowledge of abortion access and supporting student’s right to choose is a healthcare and welfare issue.
The Guild website needs clearer information on abortion services. The sexual and mental health sections of the website fails to discuss abortion, despite many students needing to have an abortion at some point whilst at university, which they may need accessible advice for.
Anti-abortion protests in Liverpool, for example one in 2018 on Mount Pleasant, can be detrimentally distressing, especially to students who have had an abortion. Whilst the Guild can’t stop these protests happening, they should provide adequate help afterwards, as well as fully supporting students involved in counter-protests.
In Northern Ireland, abortion is still illegal. The Guild should support campaigns, either from societies or from the NUS, that push for decriminalised. Liverpool has a high abortion rate due to Irish women travelling to obtain abortions legally. Many students are Irish here; the Guild must fulﬁl their aim of supporting these students, and their access to healthcare.
The Guild taking a pro-choice stance is not a radical change. The Guild Advice Service provides “non-judgemental advice,” the Guild have asked an anti-choice charity not to return to the Welcome Fair, and the Guild have supported our rights to counter protest anti-choice demonstrations. Free speech would not be curtailed, e.g. the Pro-Life society will be allowed to continue, and the Guild won’t take direct action to stop demonstrations. This is not a discussion about the morality of abortion, people are free to believe as they wish. This is about protecting the welfare of women students and their access to abortion.
The Liverpool Guild of Students is holding a referendum on whether to fully support a pro-choice position. If their motion passes, they will organise University-funded political lobbying in the UK and Ireland. The Guild will declare full support for the pro-choice movement on behalf of all University of Liverpool students. The No campaign believes the Guild should allow students to decide for themselves on abortion, instead of speaking for everyone.
The Guild is supposed to represent everyone. Instead, they will discriminate against anyone who believes the Guild should be neutral. We will not be encouraged to share our opinions unless they agree with the official Guild position. How can this be? Because this motion will require the Guild to officially support movements that shut down opposing views. This directly contradicts its own Equality and Diversity policy: “The Guild will not tolerate discrimination, whether direct or indirect, positive or negative, on the grounds of…religion or belief…or any other arbitrary distinction.”
The Guild is a charity funded by us. Not only will the Guild put out a letter of support, but they will also use University money to promote and campaign for abortion. The No campaign believes that it is discriminatory for our tuition fees to be used to campaign for abortion. Why should people who disagree with abortion be forced to pay for the pro-choice movement through the university? The Guild shouldn’t interfere with a sovereign nation. The Republic of Ireland have already had a referendum on abortion which lifted restrictions. The No campaign believes that a British university has no right to push a political agenda in a foreign country. Not only does the Guild seem intent on ignoring pro-life students, but they are also ignoring the will of the people of Ireland.