The UCLU pro-life society you didn’t know about

The UCLU pro-life society you didn’t know about

Keziah Conroy looks at the darker side of a brand new society here at UCL.

You might have become aware of the self-styled “brand new and exciting society” that is UCLU Life Ethics society. They vaguely claim to be “for those interested in what it means to be human”, and aim to bring “a debate on life to University College London”. Recent issues raised concern artificial intelligence and the essence of humanity, but the issue is with their previous topics of discourse.

I first became aware of them when their President, Joe Barron-Snowden, contacted me in my capacity as President of UCLU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society. They’re hosting an event titled “What separates humans from animals?” and were looking for an “atheist scholar” to debate a Catholic priest and a Buddhist monk.

Naturally, we arranged for a pantheistic Quaker anthropologist to represent us. She agreed to do so on good faith (no pun intended), none of us thinking that there could be any ulterior motive to this “brand new and exciting society”.

With a bit of googling, we soon found that the pro-life group March For Life were over the moon with the official affiliation of the Life Ethics society to UCLU, as were Cambridge Students for Life. Furthermore, the Life Ethics society had ties to the Alliance of Pro-Life Students (APS).

Joe Barron-Snowden’s original article for APS, published 1st April 2015, has since been deleted. But, as those of us from the sexting generation know all too well, you can’t delete anything from the internet.

“It took three lengthy applications, many committee meetings and one whole year to get the UCL Life Ethics society affiliated with UCLU. Being a pro-life group, we expected that we might have some difficulties in starting up a group, but we didn’t expect it to take over a year! Anyway eventually, we got there -YIPPEE!”, writes Joe.

When challenged, we were first told that “we are not a pro-life society”. Later, that became “we are no longer attached to the pro-life movement in any way”. APS confirmed that they are no longer affiliated.

UCLU has a pro-choice motion in place. Among other things, this means that “When clubs and societies invite anti-choice speakers they should also invite a pro-choice speaker to balance the debate on a person’s right to choose”. Although the motion does not mean that a pro-life society would be disallowed, correspondence with UCLU revealed that the Life Ethics society’s affiliation with UCLU is subject to “stringent”, but unspecified, terms and conditions.

UCLU Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society has fought the union before (and won) over our right to freedom of expression. We are opposed to censorship, something which Atheist, Secularist and Humanist societies across the country routinely face from their student unions. We support freedom of belief – even when we disagree with those beliefs – but condemn this deception.

Perhaps they’re trying to move away from their roots or perhaps they’re trying to hide them. Nevertheless, this vagueness is something which could potentially dupe pro-choice students into paying membership fees, effectively supporting the pro-life lobby without knowing it.

If you would like to attend the debate this week, it will be on Tuesday 27th October in Cruciform LT1 from 6pm.


  1. MEdic
    October 25, 2015 / 2:01 pm

    BEWARE: pro-lifers are spilling their PRO LIFE evil agenda.

    – the irony of this message coming from society built on hatred towards other people’s values and beliefs.

    • Keziah Conroy
      October 26, 2015 / 9:11 am

      Try reading the article first, Medic, before demonising us. We (Atheists, Secularists and Humanists) *support* freedom of belief – even those we disagree with – just unimpressed by lying/deception. If you’re pro-life, just say so. No need to lie.

      And if you think secularism is about hatred of other people’s beliefs…. Try googling that one, darling. It’s about everyone, of all faiths, being equal. It should protect religious and non-religious alike.

      As a side note, I make no apologies for disliking or even hating religious dogma, or people’s values and beliefs. They are BOOKS, they are IDEOLOGIES, they are IDEAS, they are VALUES and they are BELIEFS. They are therefore open to criticism. And everyone should be free to decide where their beliefs and values lie. Just as everyone should be free to decide if they like those ideas or not.

      If you weren’t so hell-belt on demonising us you might have realised we had a lecture on tackling islamophobia last week. Hatred indeed. People just love to demonise atheists, and I’m not sure why.

  2. Grace Dalton
    October 29, 2015 / 3:59 pm

    I’m seriously confused. Why is pro-life “dark”? Would pro-death be a better view to hold? I genuinely don’t understand. I saw that the title of this post and was interested in a pro-life group, I had no idea that there would be a complete assumption that pro-life is indisputably a bad thing. Please explain – seriously.

    • Keziah Conroy
      November 7, 2015 / 9:10 pm

      Just FYI the editor added that, not my choice of words!

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