Carleton may go pro-choice

AMS not likely to go the same route: President

The Carleton University Students’ Association, CUSA, put forth a motion last week to not recognize student groups on campus that oppose abortion. The motion states that CUSA respects abortion rights, and that organizations that oppose abortion won’t be given funding or recognized in the CUSA space.

CUSA Vice President Katy McIntyre introduced the motion along with Carleton’s Women’s Centre Collective. The motion will be considered for debate and question on Dec. 5.

CUSA President Shawn Menard said if the motion is passed, an amendment will be made to the campus discrimination policy.

Menard said that, so far, most Carleton students have reacted positively to the motion, and that most of the criticism has come from outside sources.

“We’ve gotten a lot of feedback not from students, but from outside the university,” he said. “Some people are definitely opposed to the motion, and some people are talking about freedom of speech,” he said, adding that he has received a number of harsh emails and phone calls in response to the issue, specifically, Lifeline, an anti-abortion group at Carleton, which was denied club status in October.

Menard said he was threatened legally by Lifeline and threatened physically by outside sources.

“I’ve been threatened legally and physically about Lifeline; those threats, besides the legal threats, all came from outside sources,” he said. “There are not too many student concerns at all.”

In 1989, after a pro-choice group on campus put forward a motion requesting that the AMS take a “no-new-law” stance on abortion, Queen’s students went to the referendum polls to vote on whether abortion should be recriminalized.

With a voter turn out of 47.8 per cent, 68.4 per cent opposed the recriminalization, 20.1 per cent were in favour and 10.2 per cent of voters abstained. Students voted 58.1 per cent against the AMS taking a stand on the issue.

AMS President James Macmillan said he doesn’t foresee a similar issue occurring at Queen’s anytime soon.

“I think it’s very interesting and I think …that’s a step that the AMS certainly wouldn’t be comfortable taking without some sort of student confirmation. I think it would be something that would have to be driven by students rather than by the AMS executive.”

Macmillan added that it’s difficult to say how the majority of Queen’s students would react in the situation.

“My opinion is that Queen’s is a campus that would probably lean more toward pro-choice,” he said. “In my experience, I don’t think there has been any interest in getting into abortion as an issue for the AMS. I think that’s one we’d prefer to stay out of.”

Heather Simpson is president of Queen’s Alive, a pro-life group at Queen’s. She said CUSA’s actions limit free speech.

“Students do not need to be spoon-fed politically correct opinions, or protected from particular ideas,” she said, adding that it seems more reasonable to let the students make up their own minds concerning abortion.

“If they are so sure that the pro-choice side is the more valid argument, should it not speak for itself?”

Simpson said that if a motion banning pro-life groups was ever introduced at Queen’s, it would affect not only Queen’s Alive, but religious clubs on campus, as well. “Queen’s Alive would work hard to let the University administration and the student population realize the injustice and intellectual poverty of censorship,” she said

Jenna Rose, Director at the Sexual Health Resource Centre, said it’s difficult to take a stance on an issue like this, although she, too, doesn’t think that the AMS will involve itself in discussion concerning abortion anytime soon.

“Obviously we do respect the pro-choice stance, but we also believe that it’s very important for a diverse range of students groups to have the opportunity to dialogue with each other.”

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