A pro-life protest in Dublin: Not all anti-abortion rhetoric is this positiveFlickr: William Murphy

The Cambridge University Students’ Union (CUSU) freshers’ festival is meant to be an opportunity to stick your head around, to find groups that interest you, to sign up for something new and possibly learn about different things – maybe even help make the world a better place, in small and insignificant ways.

Many of the stalls at the fair on Tuesday and Wednesday did offer students something of value. They could take up a sport, play in an orchestra and even maybe write for a student newspaper, among a plethora of other things.

However, amidst the stalls in the Kelsey Kerridge Sports Center, and not too far off from the Christian Union and the Catholic Chaplaincy’s Fisher Society stalls, stood the Cambridge Students For Life (CSFL) stall – having been sanctioned by CUSU. Frankly, CUSU was wrong to grant CSFL a stall in the fair this year.

According to the CUSU website's description, CSFL’s aim is to promote a culture of life through debates, and help women facing “crisis pregnancies”, whatever that means. Underneath the mild language, however, it becomes clear that CSFL, as one Trinity fresher aptly put it, is “an anti-choice society”, and that any debate it holds is held to encourage anti-choice attitudes. It discriminates against women, disregards bodily autonomy and pressures pregnant women into avoiding terminations.

A quick look at CSFL’s Facebook page confirms some suspicions. Over the summer, they have shared material which speaks out to "abolish abortion" and "embrace women who’ve opted for abortions in the past with forgiveness and peace." This is all promoted alongside their rather bizarre belief that it is possible to be a 'pro-life feminist'. It is quite easy to see that CSFL is hardline and that, like some Christian groups, it treats people in a patronizing way. Although CSFL brands itself as being non-sectarian, it is hardly surprising that both co-Presidents of CSFL, Xavier Bisits and Grace Langford, are Vice-Chair and Senior Officer of Fisher House, the University of Cambridge’s Catholic chaplaincy. Without the religious zeal, then, one finds the arguments against abortion and women’s rights far less compelling. What motivates CSFL is religion – to deny this would be a fallacy.

Some students here may be BNP and EDL supporters, but neither group has a society registered with CUSU, and neither group is likely to make an appearance at the societies’ fair in the near future. I for one would refuse to attend any fair where BNP are given a platform to broadcast a message of hate and discrimination. CSFL, like the BNP, discriminates, strips people of their rights and works to shame those who disagree with them. How can this be good? And why has no one said anything about it?

CUSU should not have registered CSFL as a university society. CSFL’s perfect world is a place where abortions, if at all permissible, are much harder to attain. It is a world where women feel shame and stigma. It’s a world that discriminates. If I were female and pregnant I would loathe having CSFL’s anti-choice activists judge me for my very personal decisions – decisions regarding my bodily autonomy, my future life and my welfare.

This ideal world is dangerous. One does not need to look too far back to recall the death of Savita Halappanavar in Ireland in October 2012. Savita’s death was a result of her being denied an abortion because her condition did not appear to be life-threatening. Her pregnancy was only terminated when this became apparent too late, and Savita passed away. Had she been granted an abortion when she first asked for it, she might be alive today. However, she was told by a nurse that Ireland is "a catholic country, where abortions are illegal. As such, she was denied autonomy over her own body.

I am not conflating the two issues of abortion and Catholicism, but it is naïve to ignore such a strong correlation between being Catholic and being anti-choice. That there are prominent anti-abortion atheists campaigning today does not detract from this basic generalization.

CUSU was wrong to grant CSFL a stand in the societies’ fair. It was also wrong to grant CSFL society status. CSFL is anti-choice and as such represents a serious danger to the welfare of some students in this university. If one of my friends were to get pregnant, I would hate to see her pressured into keeping a child she did not want. She should be allowed the right to make her own decision without pressure from people who believe it is their duty to police this university in accordance with their own code of morality, and she should receive support, not judgement, irrespective of that decision.

I am pro-choice, and CSFL is not. Today, the majority of us have accepted women’s right to autonomy over their own bodies. It was a long battle – but in the end, at least in this country, women have secured this basic right. CSFL wishes to question that right and perhaps convert others to their beliefs. This is wrong, and anyone who participates in a debate organised by CSFL to argue for or against abortion does millions of women wrong by allowing CSFL to question the right to terminate. And that is just not OK.