Defend Academic Freedom: Catholic University Must Not Punish Academics for Opposing Abortion
At the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Belgium, academic freedom is under serious threat.
Stéphane Mercier, visiting lecturer at the Institute of Philosophy, has spoken out against abortion, and has been suspended for it and could even lose his job.
In a short paper, entitled La philosophie pour la vie ( "Philosophy for life") Mercier characterises abortion as murder:
"The truth is that abortion is the killing of an innocent person. And it's even a particularly disgusting murder, because the innocent person cannot defend [him/herself]."
UCL have since stated that the views of Mercier go against the values of the university (which claims to be Catholic).
The university has said that if these views were propagated in the context of a lesson, this is "unacceptable".
According to the university, the right to abortion is part of Belgian law.
So on the 23rd March 2017 Mercier was summoned to answer for the text and any use of it in his classes. (An action more like the infamous Inquisition than a university)
This is in direct conflict with academic freedom, freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.
As a teacher, on the basis of a reasoned opinion, he must be free to explain his moral opposition to abortion, especially at a Catholic University. What is left of the academic freedom if views which dissent from the majority are not permitted to be expressed?
Rather than come up with arguments, rather than attempting to show Dr Mercier why he is wrong, UCL have taken the cowardly option, and have suspended him for having the audacity to think differently and hold traditional Catholic views.
They have also undertaken undisclosed “disciplinary proceedings”
This is disgraceful.
Please sign this petition to the university demanding respect for academic freedom and for Catholics to hold Catholic beliefs at university.
Sign this petition now!
Respect the Academic Freedom of Stéphane Mercier