The anti-abortion group Abort67 displayed graphic images of human foetuses as part of a controversial protest on campus this week.
The group, well known for their confrontational tactics, was criticised by the Students’ Union President Kelly McBride who said their presence had left many students feeling “distressed and intimidated”.
Some six members of Abort67 staged the protest near the underpass at Falmer station.
They held up large banners showing the provocative images to students arriving for their morning lectures.
Later, a group of pro-choice students held a counter-protest and attempted to block the offending images from being shown.
A spokesperson from Abort67 justified the action by claiming that 19-24 year olds are “having significant numbers of abortions” and that there is an “ignorance” around the issue.
They denied that their conduct was intimidating, stating that “If people find [the images] distressing it is because abortion is distressing.”
They added that people who view abortion as a human right should “celebrate” when they see the pictures.
This is the first time Abort67 have protested on campus but they have regularly picketed clinics in Brighton that offer abortions.
In September, two campaigners connected to the group were acquitted of public order offenses after they were arrested during a protest outside Wiston Clinic on Dyke Road.
According to the Brighton pro-choice group, women are having abortions later in their pregnancies because of the campaign’s tactics.
The spokesperson from the campaign confirmed that Abort67 will return to picket Sussex students again.
The group will also travel to other UK campuses, mirroring the tactics of similar organisations in the USA.
They said: “We are planning on visiting other universities to expose abortion and the prevalence of the enemies of freedom; those who promote hecklers, veto and mob rule.”
Pro-choice campaigners are already planning to counter any further protests and a ‘fight-back’ meeting was held at Brighton’s Cowley Club on Tuesday night.
Kelly McBride used the opportunity to reiterate the Students’ Union’s pro-choice stance. She said “I am proud of the Students’ Union’s pro-choice position and deplore the actions of this group in our community”. Union policy, as voted for by students, states that women “have the right to safe, supportive and legal abortion services if they wish to terminate a pregnancy.”
By Tom Foster