Members of the University of Sydney Wom*n’s Collective launched an impromptu protest at the LifeChoice stall on Friday.
Tensions escalated at OWeek after students chalked the pavement in front of the LifeChoice stall with messages that read “Abortion is good” and “Abortion should be free, safe, legal”.
Led by Wom*n’s Collective Officer, Maddy Ward and Jessica Syed, pro-choice campaigners spoke into the megaphone, in a demonstration directly in front of the LifeChoice stall.
“This club over here, allowed to be here by the University of Sydney Union, is pedalling anti-choice bullshit on this campus,” said a Wom*n’s Collective member.
“They do not want women of this campus, or women of this state, or this country to have access to safe and legal abortions.”
The controversial pro-life student society have been formally registered as a USU Club & Society since 2012, after being previously rejected by the Clubs & Societies Committee for failing to meet the criteria of “enrich[ing] the student experience at the university” under (3)(a)(i) of the C&S regulations.
The constitution of LifeChoice says it seeks to “promote the dignity of human life from conception till natural death” and “foster discussion of abortion and euthanasia”. At this year’s OWeek, LifeChoice displayed pamphlets that read “What’s the most important human right?”
Throughout the protest, students at the LifeChoice stall proceeded to wash the pavement with water, while members of the Wom*n’s Collective re-chalked.
A pro-life and pro-choice campaigner engaged in a back-and-forth after a LifeChoice member’s water bucket was taken, rendering them unable to continue cleaning the chalk. “I’d just like my bucket back,” to which a protester replied “How do I know this is your bucket?”
Today’s impromptu protest did not garner significant engagement, with an equal number of pro-life and pro-choice campaigners.
At one stage in the afternoon, a student walked past the protest and yelled “shut up”, holding up his middle finger, to which the protester retorted: “Go ahead, flip me off. I don’t think you’re getting laid, it’s fine.”
Over the three-day Orientation Week, the Wom*n’s Collective constructed an interactive cardboard photo-interaction in the shape of a heart, with the message “everyone deserves the right to choose”.
Syed said at the impromptu demonstration: “We had a protest on Wednesday with regard to the Red Zone report outlining sexual assault. If these people really care about women’s rights where were they? Why didn’t they show up at the protest?”
“If you think the only violence a woman can subject herself to is having an abortion, then you’re really out of touch.”
It’s yet to be seen whether LifeChoice will have a continued campus presence throughout the year, given that much of their prior controversy has only stemmed from their activities at OWeek.