Cherwell

Election’s confusing pro-life choice

Yesterday’s OUSU VP Women byelection was mired in
controversy as it emerged that one of the two candidates had not
mentioned her anti-abortion links on her manifesto. Lucy Underwood, one of the two candidates for the post, is the
current President of the Oxford Pro- Life Society, whose stated
aim is “to campaign around Oxford for the protection of
human life”. However the role of VP Women involves “producing the
Unplanned Pregnancy: Your Options pack and overseeing the work of
OUSU’s Promoting Choice Committee” as well as always
being “available to see students to give confidential
nondirective welfare support, particularly on pregnancy”. Ms Underwood, who has not been involved in political campaigns
on any issue apart from antiabortion before, mentions cutting
student numbers and post-exam celebrations on her manifesto but
fails to mention her Pro-Life role. Her only mention of pregnancy came under the title
“Choice and free speech for women” where she said that
“the pregnancy advisory handbook and OUSU counselling
services should be open to all legal organisations who wish to
advertise.” It is thought this was a reference to
OUSU’s long-standing policy not to allow the anti-abortion
organisation Life to advertise in the pregnancy advisory handbook
on the grounds that it provides directional advice. At hustings Ms Underwood claimed her Pro-Life links were
irrelevant and that OUSU should not take a “political
line” on the issue. She did explain to Cherwell that she had
declared her Pro-Life role on her nomination form and had no duty
to mention it on the manifesto. She explained that she hoped to
be able “to provide all the choices” to Oxford’s
women. Bex Wilkinson, Ms Underwood’s competitor and a former
OUSU Council Delegate and Executive Member, states quite openly
on her manifesto that she has been a Pro- Choice Officer and is
endorsed by former Pro-Choice Officers. Wilkinson won by a
landslide majority.ARCHIVE: 2nd week TT 2004