Exeter Students’ Guild is resisting calls for an anti-abortion society to be shut down, supporting its members’ rights to ‘freedom of speech’ and to operate without fear of ‘intolerance or discrimination’.
The Christian group, Exeter Students for Life, is run by a male second-year Law student named Ali who says he wants to end ‘murders happening every day’, and describes anyone involved in the process of abortion as a ‘sinner’.
On social media students from around the country have suggested that the university shouldn’t allow the society to operate on campus, but the Exeter University’s Students’ Guild said in a statement said that it encourages ‘freedom of speech’.
The row engulfing the Russell Group university has prompted claims that pro-choice students have issued death threats to members of the Students for Life society, with one online comment reading: ‘Fav place in Exeter gonna be the BOTTOM of the quay if u int careful’ and another saying ‘someone beat him up’, with reference to a memeber of the society’s committee.
The president, left, and outreach officer, left, of the Exeter Students for Life society, which promotes pro-life, pictured canvassing for new members at a recent Freshers’ Fair at Exeter University
The controversial Christian group is run by a second year Law student named Ali, pictured, who says he wants to end ‘murders happening every day’
Devon and Cornwall Police said: ‘Police have been informed of reports of messages sent via social media on Monday 4 October. It was reported that the victim received a message deemed to be of an offensive nature. Enquiries are ongoing in relation to this matter.’
On their Instagram page, the group has shared photos and videos of its freshers week stalls and workshops at the university.
In a post introducing himself, Ali, the group’s president outlined his commitment to his Christian faith saying: ‘I am pro-life and anti-abortion because I want to end the murders happening every day and because I want to see people saved.’
He added: ‘Those who have had abortions, who have participated in the procurement of one, or who have been silent, have sinned and need to repent.’
The group’s Vice President, Robert, a third year Philosophy student said he believes that no woman ‘really wants to have an abortion’, saying: I’ believe that it is a choice made in fear, which is no real choice at all. I believe in humanity’s capacity for love and I want to create conditions for its flourishing.’
The society’s social media profile has sparked a backlash of negative reaction, with one saying the group was about ‘men thinking they have the right to control women’s bodies.’
Another wrote: ‘@uniofexeter this is not the safe space you should be promoting for your students. Absolutely disgraceful.’
Mental health campaigner Ben West, who lost his younger brother Sam to suicide in 2018, shared his thoughts on the society with his 44,000 followers, saying: This is scary…societies should be fun, recreational and improve student life, not stir controversy and make 99% of the female student population terrified for their well-being.’
MailOnline has contacted Exeter University for comment.
In a statement on its website, the university’s student guild said on Monday that anyone studying at Exeter could apply to start a society, and its role was to ‘facilitate these groups, including when these views may be challenging or emotive.’
It continued: ‘We are aware of the current discussion around the Students for Life Society and a petition around calling for the disaffiliation of the society.
Showing their support: actors Amy Schumer and Jennifer Lawrence attended the Rally for Abortion Justice event in New York City on Saturday to protest again new abortion laws in Texas
‘We acknowledge that this is an emotive topic to a lot of our community and we can understand that it is something people have different views on and feel strongly about.
‘We support freedom of speech. We want to foster an environment where our members can participate fully, feel able to question and challenge, express new ideas, discuss controversial and or unpopular opinions within the law- all without fear of intolerance or discrimination.
‘We are committed to the principle that both debate and deliberation should not be suppressed, and we encourage and support our members to engage, within the law, in both a constructive and responsible manner to contest any ideas they oppose openly and vigorously.’
Controversial changes to abortion laws in the state of Texas in September have seen the emotive issue making headlines across the world in recent weeks.
Rallying cry: This weekend, a slew of rallies and marches were held across the US in support of abortion rights for women, including in cities like Washington, D.C. (pictured)
New legislation prohibits abortions in the state as early as six weeks, before some women know they are pregnant.
Last month, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said in a signing ceremony on the state’s new abortion legislation: ‘Our creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children lose their right to life every year because of abortion’.
He added that the legislature ‘worked together on a bipartisan basis to pass a bill’… that ensures that the life of every unborn child who has a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion.’