• May 1, 2019
Posters promoting crisis pregnancy support, put up by ProLife's Auckland University branch. Photo: Supplied
A divided AUTSA student council has voted to affiliate a new pro-life club despite opposition.
Emma Rankin, the President of the newly-affiliated ProLife AUT, said she realised starting a club that represented pro-life voices at AUT was contentious.
“It has crossed my mind that I am the face of a very contentious issue at AUT but it is something I care deeply about. Because of that, I am willing to take the backlash.”
ProLife AUT is the newest part of the wider ProLife movement, which included the ProLife Club at the University of Auckland which narrowly avoided disaffiliation in 2017.
The club, which currently consists of 13 members, said in its constitution it “aims to educate students on matters relating to the intrinsic value of human life”.
The constitution also said it would “engage with those affected by abortion in a spirit of compassion and empathy”.
Ms Rankin said she did not want the group to be judged by the behaviour of other pro-life activists and would condemn anyone being aggressive.
“As a club, we want to convey a spirit of compassion and spirit kindness. So, we don’t have any interest in being aggressive.”
She said ProLife AUT would not advocate for stricter abortion laws and had no interest in shaming women.
“We want abortion to be unthinkable in New Zealand, not because women feel shamed or trapped into pregnancies, but because they feel supported and feel that there is wrap-around care.”
AUTSA President, Dharyin Colbert said despite differing opinions within the student council, their job was to represent any reasonable views from students.
“There are definitely clubs we would not affiliate. Hate groups and supremacist groups. For example, the European Student association which tried to affiliate here last year.
"There are controversial views, then there are dangerous views, and I’m confident we can recognise those.”
However, Mr Colbert said if the club became disruptive, the student council would intervene.
“If a club becomes militant or aggressive and negative, and disturbs safe, open, positive, diverse spaces, then we would review what their role in student life looks like.”
Terry Bellamak, president of the Abortion Law Reform Association of New Zealand (ALRANZ), said the AUTSA should ignore what ProLife AUT said and pay attention to what they did, considering what happened with pro-life movements at other universities.
“For example, at the University of Auckland with pro-life groups showing gory posters or confronting people who have had abortions, their presence has not been very respectful.”
Mr Bellamak said abortions were routine health care that women needed to control their fertility.
“Contraception is great, but there is no contraception with a zero percent failure rate, even with perfect use and unfortunately, humans are not known for perfection.”
Mr Bellamak said access to abortion services and providing support to new mothers should not be pitched against one another.
“There should be exactly as many abortions as people who don’t want to be pregnant.
“We trust women and pregnant people to make their own choices to decide for themselves whether to receive abortion care or not and, think everyone should.”