The UTS Wom*n’s Collective has launched a petition against the pro-life club, LifeChoice, as they attempt to affiliate with the UTS Union.
The petition claims LifeChoice UTS contradicts the terms of the UTS Student Charter as the club’s actions on campus may create a learning environment where students are harassed or intimidated based on their gender.
Alison Whittaker, Convener of the UTS Wom*n’s Collective, said, “[LifeChoice] creates an unsafe space, further stigmatises persons who have engaged with this medical procedure and shuts down a personal aspect of the discourse.
“Any perceived benefit to the opening of this discussion is in my view flavoured by their conduct.”
The pro-life group submitted an application for affiliation to the UTS Union on May 31, with the aim of promoting “the dignity of human life from conception to natural death through reasonable and informed discussion on the issues of abortion and euthanasia”.
Monica Helbano, a concerned individual who represents those supporting LifeChoice UTS, said, “We completely support the UTS Student Charter and reject any harassment, intimidation and disrespect for any reason, of any student.
“Promoting our ethical views in the context of the discussion of ideas does not constitute harassment. In fact, it is essential to the function of academic life.”
If LifeChoice’s application is accepted, the club is entitled to funding subsidies every semester of up to $6000 for events and $2000 to spend on publications and other printed material.
The UTS Wom*n’s Collective’s petition goes on to quote an article in the May 1 edition of The Australian which states that the National Union of Students (NUS) believe that the groups activities may contradict their stated aim of hosting “reasonable and informed discussion”.
Jade Tyrrell, President of the National Union of Students (NUS), said in that article that groups such as LifeChoice are “extremely political causes that adversely affects one group of people”, and they should not receive money collected by the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF).
“NUS’s greatest concern is that these types of groups are interfering with a woman’s right to choose,” Tyrrell said.
With over 300 signatures, the Wom*n Collective’s petition claims pro-life groups target women and their choices about their reproductive health with misinformation and intimidation.
Whittaker said, “LifeChoice crushes debate through the production of misinformation and shame.
“LifeChoice will conduct themselves in the same manner as they have done on other campuses . . . creating a tremendously threatening, vitriolic and poisonous discourse.”
On May 13, a LifeChoice club affiliated with the University of Sydney Union placed hundreds of pamphlets in the lectures of first year students.
According to University of Sydney student paper, Honi Soit, the pamphlet contained false information on the emergency contraceptive RU486.
Belle Whealing, Media Coordinator for the LifeChoice Student Association, said, “LifeChoice completely rejects the accusation that the flyers were factually misleading.
“While some of the flyer’s wording should have been clearer, the essential point . . . remains intact, and is backed up in the literature.”
If their affiliation proposal is accepted, LifeChoice aims to provide an educational and engaging platform for students to discuss abortion and euthanasia.
Helbano said, “We want to be able to engage fully with our fellow students on campus.
“All events will promote some aspect of either . . . abortion or euthanasia, in the context of our first aim to promote the dignity of human life.”
The UTS Wom*n’s Collective needs just under seven hundred more signatures to complete its petition.
The Collective and its allies are also looking to start a pro-choice group through affiliation with the Students’ Association in response to LifeChoice.