Anti-abortion group wins key vote

MICHELLE ROBINSON
Last updated 05:00 19/07/2012

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Anti-abortion group ProLife has been allowed to stay as a club within the Auckland University Students' Association despite complaints the group was harassing vulnerable students on campus.

The association had received two complaints about pamphlets containing "misinformed" health information on abortions being distributed by the group, and of students feeling harassed.

The association held a meeting yesterday to decide whether the group should be disaffiliated.

There was heated debate during the meeting, which attracted about 300 people, and students eventually voted 225 to 117 to allow the club to stay within the association.

ProLife New Zealand spokeswoman Rachel Wong disputed the club had done anything wrong in the first place.

She said the association failed to communicate with the club after receiving an "anonymous" and "unsubstantiated" email complaint.

The Right to Know pamphlet carries the slogan: "Hands up if you've heard this before: Abortion is a safe, simple medical procedure."

Wong said the pamphlets, distributed for two weeks in May, were not confrontational.

"For us, the main issue is freedom of speech. Clubs should be able to voice their opinions at uni and express their ideas."

She said "several crucial steps" of communication were missed by the association.

Association president Arena Williams said the group's president was contacted as soon as the decision to hold a meeting was made.

"Some women feel uncomfortable about the tactics [ProLife] use. So every time they do that we have to take it on board with [the complainants'] rights as well as freedom of speech," she said.

"I don't think it was a mistake to complain to the student's association.

"The result today was that we like an open, vibrant community."

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- Auckland Now

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