Students are campaigning against their university’s Roman Catholic chaplaincy for supporting a pro-life event.
Nearly 300 people have signed a petition calling for the removal of posters advertising the event stating: “Displaying such posters isolates, stigmatises and intimidates people”.
The Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen’s spokesman responded by saying that free speech is vital on campus.
‘Tragic reality of abortion’
The chaplaincy, at the University of Aberdeen, is advertising a 40 Days for Life event taking place in the city.
Rejecting the students’ criticism, the spokesman said adverts for the “peaceful pro-life vigil” were in no way harmful, and that it was simply an event to mark the “tragic reality of abortion”.
A Liberal Democrat councillor in Aberdeen also defended the publicity, saying if it “is not offensive, then I don’t see why they shouldn’t display it”.
But the petition, which currently has 279 signatures, claims the adverts are “harmful and make our campus a distressing place, particularly for those who have personal experiences with abortion”.
While acknowledging that the campus is “a place for discussion”, it states that “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”, it adds.
Jenny Killin, who has signed the petition and is the Students’ Association’s Welfare Officer, said: “Freedom of speech should never be used as an excuse to attack individuals who are exercising bodily autonomy or accessing healthcare.”
The spokesman for the Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen said: “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.”
“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”, the spokesman added.
The University of Aberdeen responded: “This building forms part of the Catholic Diocese and as such, is not a University-owned or managed facility, so it falls outwith our control.”