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The trials and endeavors of being pro-life at university

Wednesday, 21 February, 2024

It was a talk at university that galvanized my pro-life views, helping me to see the violence of abortion against the unborn is one of the biggest social justice issues of our age, and that someone needed to do something about it. Lord David Alton spoke in London twenty years ago and showed the reality of abortion. It was enough to sow the seeds of empowering, educating, informing and inspiring me to action. 

Having recently returned from Cambridge University to give a talk to the pro-life society, I realized the horrors that many university students currently undergo now that woke ideology holds our academic institutions in a grotesque ransom. Thankfully the chaplaincy at Cambridge was a “safe space” from the kind of culture where it is not possible to express your views without cancellation. Woke ideology does not seek to debate, but shut down anyone who does not conform to the narrative. 

Most students are at an age meaning they are at the most abortion vulnerable age in their lives. In 2010, I heard residents on Whitfield Street praying inside a hall of residence, next to the prayer vigil outside the abortion centre, along with the prayer vigil in the street. Other students were not so kind and used to pour buckets of water over our prayer volunteers,  satirically pretending to be God, or saying that they would give up their abortion protest for Lent mockingly. 

St John Henry Newman envisaged a university education as a broad liberal education, as a means in and of itself that taught students to think, reason, compare, discriminate and analyze, rather than have an area of narrow specialization. This is in stark contrast to the cancel culture currently witnessed on British universities with regards to pro-life views, shut down and cancelled across the board. 

The Alliance of Pro-Life students with a survey of a couple of hundred pro-life students found that over 70% of students found themselves in lectures or seminars where they felt unable to speak about their views.

The Alliance of Pro-Life students found that over 70% of students found themselves in lectures or seminars where they felt unable to speak about their views. 

Nearly a quarter of those surveyed had been threatened, abused, alarmed or distressed by actions of words of another student or academic because of their membership of a pro-life society. One in three had seen events deplatformed or cancelled and 65% surveyed had seen a student discriminated or harassed for holding pro-life views. 

Father David Palmer was cancelled as the University chaplain for holding pro-life views, while Julia Rynkiewicz faced suspension and a hearing due to her leadership of a pro-life group. Pro-life groups in Birmingham, Nottingham, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Strathclyde have all faced battles with universities to be recognized as a student society. A culture of bullying and silence is rampant.

Universities need to be environments that champion free speech, leading to the free dissemination of ideas. Young people need to be challenged to greatness, called to sacrificial love, to channel their enthusiasm and zeal for noble causes. They need to have the formation to learn to respond to God’s calling in life. 

Students for Life groups have flourished over all of America. We need to be nurturing, forming and reaching the students of tomorrow to have the vision to end abortion in their generation by mobilizing and inspiring their contemporaries to wake up to the reality of abortion, and empower them to do something about it. Wokery needs to be confronted head on in all of its self righteous fussiness and bossiness. 

The group of students in Cambridge were inspired to go and pray outside an abortion centre after the talk, to discern and consider how God could use them for their greater glory, and to publicly witness for an end to abortion, not worried about what their contemporaries would think of them, but rather praying for the children inside the abortion centre for their lives and wellbeing. 

With more young people waking up to the reality of abortion, more lives can be touched. 40 Days for life is the ideal channel to move young people to realize they can take a stand and make a difference when it comes to abortion. As stated in the book of Jeremiah, there is no such thing as being too young. We need to call young people to action. How better than inviting them to a 40 Days for Life campaign where rather than abstractly talking about abortion, they can pray and witness for a better world.