Pro-Choice Society at Queen’s criticise candidates’ responses to question “Are you pro-choice?”

By Liam Cassidy and Niamh McGovern

The Pro-Choice Society at Queen’s have released a statement criticising presidential candidates’ responses to the question “Are you pro-choice?” during Monday’s question time in the Students’ Union.

Raymond Dillon, Sean Searle and Caoimhe McNeill were diplomatic in their answers but were all denounced by the PCS.

pro choice
A banner at a pro-choice rally in Belfast, last summer.

The statement reads: “the two men fudged the issue, they inferred that they did not really have a personal opinion but that they did not feel they should be telling a woman what to do. The Pro-Choice Society (PCS) would argue that what they demonstrated was a lack of clarity and a lack of leadership; hardly an auspicious start if you hope to lead 20,000 students. In our opinion, Caoimhe McNeill fared worse. She went to considerable length to explain how she would not have an abortion, no matter what the circumstances, and then she said that despite this she did not feel it was her place to tell other women what to do. Again, this failed to answer the question, demonstrated a lack of leadership and we felt was an underhanded shaming of those women who do have abortions.”

The statement went on to compare the candidates’ failure to state a pro-choice stance with racism, postulating “If we had asked the candidates running for Equality and Diversity “Would you date a black man / woman?” and they had responded “Well no, I would never date a black man / woman, but if someone else wanted to I wouldn’t stand in their way”, would you just accept their comment, or would you think their answer marked them out as racists who thought there was something shameful with dating someone who was not white?”

The statement concluded, “We say shame on all three candidates, shame on them for failing to answer such a simple question, shame on them for not publically supporting female students, and shame on them for not supporting the women of this country.”

2 thoughts on “Pro-Choice Society at Queen’s criticise candidates’ responses to question “Are you pro-choice?”

    1. Self-righteous indignation indeed – what a stupid thing to say! Without giving the PCS a pass on this (the racism parallel is pretty juvenile), asking potential SU representatives where they stand on something which is taboo but, ultimately, affects students is totally reasonable. And they’re right – trying to diplomatically avoid giving an answer does show a lack of leadership on the issue.

      That said, the question itself wasn’t a good one – it doesn’t make a bit of difference whether a candidate is pro-choice if they aren’t intending to campaign for more reproductive rights.


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