LUU should take a pro-choice stance on reproductive justice

Passed: November 2019 (18th)

What do you want? / Why do you want it?

Everyone should have the right to practice bodily autonomy, including making choices about pregnancy. The Student Union should support this as pregnancy hugely impacts someone's University career.

LUU should advocate for easier, quicker access to free and safe reproductive healthcare, it should support the NUS campaign to allow Northern Irish students to access abortion on the NHS when studying in the UK, and it should support pro-choice student activism on campus. It should also only signpost students to pro-choice organisations.

Expires: November 2022 (18th)

Submitted By: Amy Wells & Cat Fairbairn

Officer: Welfare

Area of Work: Support

Notes & Definition;

Following in the steps of SUs like Durham's, passing this idea means that LUU reaffirms its supportive position on student access to reproductive healthcare. It fits with our strategic mission to empower positive health and wellbeing in our members.

We'd like to explicitly state that pro-choice means just that. We respect every students' right to bodily autonomy, agency and reproductive justice, and should only signpost our members to services with this "stance" like the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (we already do this, but it's not mandated by policy).

To be clear, this idea is in line with OfS (Office for Students) and NUS (National Union of Students) recommendations around SUs agreeing their own ‘stances’ on the issue, and means that we will non-judgementally support and empower students to make the complex decision they face if they fall pregnant while studying, whether that's academic and financial arrangements for a student who wants to complete the pregnancy, or information on safe and legal termination if they decide that's right for them. A pro-choice stance is one of true neutrality, the opposite to pro-choice is anti-choice, not pro-life. There are perception issues around the understanding of this term, but this is not a reason to shy away from taking this stance - we should be the kind of institution to champion the betterment of societal attitudes.

Every student deserves the right to make their own decisions based on personal circumstance without being subject to control by others. With this in mind, we should oppose anti-choice activity and scaremongering that attempts to attack, weaken or remove this right or shame students for the choices they make about their own welfare. This does not censor pro-life individuals who might hold cultural or religious personal oppositions for abortion as a choice for themselves, it means we will oppose activity that campaigns to remove students' right to legal abortion or activity that aims to distress, shame or psychological damage students by, for example, displaying graphic imagery, which was the case with an anti-choice demonstration in front of the Parkinson Building in 2017, with no regard for the mental wellbeing of students who may have had to make tough choices in the past or may be dealing with trauma relating to their pregnancy.

Furthermore, we should actively support, wherever and however possible, the rights of students to legal reproductive healthcare when they are from places where safe abortion is still illegal. This champions our values of inclusivity, equality, and safety. We should also aim to remove gendered language in the discussion around reproductive healthcare in order to address the barriers trans and non-binary people face when trying to access this type of healthcare.

- Amy Wells, LUU Welfare Officer

Updates

November 2019: New Policy. LUU Advice services currently signpost students to pro-choice support and organisations. We would support any student and any choice.