An angry mob hurled abuse at pro-life students in Manchester, yet Christians are arrested for praying silently outside abortion clinics. It’s not OK, says Roger Kiska


Source: Right to Life UK / Facebook

On 29 February, Tke Media posted a shocking video on social media. It showed pro-life students at the University of Manchester being physically and verbally assaulted by what can only be described as a mob of protesters.

The pro-life group was guilty of nothing more than peacefully meeting, as any other society might, on their university campus. Yet a crowd of approximately 250 people surrounded the building and had to be held back by police as members of the pro-life society entered and exited.

Inge Botha, a first year student who attended the meeting, later told GB News that she was told to “get raped” by a man in the crowd. Eggs were thrown, and Botha described ”a wall of people screaming at us. It was so loud that it made your ears ring. The protesters got right up in our faces with their hands and faces, screaming insults and making terrible threats.”

Double standards

As someone who, on behalf of the Christian Legal Centre, has provided legal support to a number of pro-life societies and organisations, I have seen just how abused pro-lifers are in this country.

In one case I worked on, a pro-life society was sanctioned by the Students’ Union for pro-life Instagram posts they made. Yet members of the Students’ Union executive management committee posted vitriol directed at the pro-life society on X (formerly Twitter) and participated in petitions to have them removed from campus. The former SU equality and diversity director went as far as to tweet that, if she did not completely get her rights, she would go “cut a b*tch” and then called on others to take action as well.

In another case, a Students’ Union passed a resolution banning all pro-life activity on campus, making it impossible for the campus pro-life society to register. This was only resolved after legal action was taken. Members were heckled when they attended a SU meeting and called “rapist apologists”.

Yet, ironically, it is pro-life campaigners who are subject to the harshest restrictions on their rights to peacefully protest. Buffer zones have been established around abortion clinics in several locations throughout the UK, prohibiting even silent prayer.

No matter how radical the agenda, no one really seems to bat an eye. Take Stella Creasy’s recently tabled amendment to the Criminal Justice Bill, which seeks to decriminalise abortion up to the moment of birth. The amendment, if passed, will make it legal for a woman to hide the fact that she has disposed of her live, born child. 

Human rights

The right to protest abortion and meet as an association to further that goal is a human right recognised under the European Convention on Human Rights, which is binding on the UK. The settled case-law of the European Court of Human Rights has been clear that abortion is not a human right.

Pro-life members were heckled and called “rapist apologists”

While abortion has recently become a constitutional right in France, this is far from creating a human right to abortion. Abortion laws change as societies and governments change. By way of example, abortion was a constitutional right in the United States for almost 50 years, until in 2022 the Supreme Court overruled Roe v Wade, and abortion lost its constitutional protection.

Peaceful protest

It is valid to believe that life begins at the moment of conception. It is of profound importance to many people to have and express this belief through peaceful protest and prayer. It is unthinkable that we would regulate manifestations of such deeply held beliefs for any other aspect of society. I doubt that, at any time in the near future, there will be PSPOs set up around fast food restaurants to keep away animal rights activists. Nor will there be PSPOs around petrol stations to keep out climate activists.

The settled case-law of the European Court of Human Rights is clear: abortion is not a human right

As a nation, we need to have serious conversations about the double standards being applied to different classes of people, based on their beliefs. No democracy should tolerate the removal of rights from one class of people based on their beliefs, while allowing mob rule to reign on the other side of the belief spectrum.

The unborn child cannot speak for itself. We need to live in a society with the tolerance and values to allow others to speak up in the unborn child’s defence without fear of being arrested or publicly attacked.