Student union president refuses to publish illegal abortion information
DUBLIN, Ireland, October 12, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The president of the Student Union at University College Dublin faces a referendum later this month for refusing to let a student publication illegally publish abortion instructions.
Katie Ascough, president of UCD’s student union, received legal advice cautioning against publishing in a magazine for new students instructions on obtaining an abortion. Ireland's laws regarding distributing unsolicited abortion information are strict.
Ascough made the “executive decision” not to run the potentially illegal abortion how-to, and now some of her fellow students have launched a campaign to remove her from office over this.
Two petitions, one invalid, were delivered to the university after pro-abortion backlash. The valid petition has 1,200 signatures. Students will vote October 25 and 26.
“It was clear from the outset that some students didn’t want to give me a chance as SU president because of my views on abortion,” said Ascough.
“It is no secret that I am pro-life and many students are not. Since the day I was elected, before I’d been put in office, some students were already calling for my impeachment,” she wrote in an open letter to UCD. “I have thoroughly enjoyed the hard work over the summer to live up to my campaign promises, and I wouldn’t change the last four months as president of UCD Students’ Union for anything.”
Ascough is taking annual leave until the referendum.
A Facebook page urging students to support Ascough features a young man who is identified as “pro-choice” but still supportive of her.
“The main reason that a group of students are calling for my impeachment is because of my decision to not break the law and illegally distribute abortion information,” Ascough explained in her open letter.
“The Union was producing a handbook that acted as a college guide for incoming students,” she recounted. “I was aware that the handbook contained abortion information but was not informed by the editors of the book that it was illegal to distribute this information.”
Ascough said she originally “delegated the signoff for the handbook to the campaigns & communications officer.”
But “after the books were printed and delivered, a staff member pointed out various issues including potential illegality of some of the content.”
So Ascough consulted with the Student Union’s lawyer, who is an “advocate for repeal of the Eighth Amendment,” Ireland’s pro-life amendment.
The pro-abortion lawyer recommended the abortion information not be included.
“I also asked the Board of Directors for advice, and they agreed with the decision to follow legal advice,” Ascough wrote. “As CEO of the company, I decided to follow the advice of the Union’s lawyer with the Union Board’s agreement.”
“Each person involved in the decision to publish the information and/or involved in distributing the books would have been at risk of up to €4,000 in fines each, a personal criminal conviction, and, if prosecuted, the Union could also incur thousands in legal fees,” she explained.
Six volunteering professionals, six or more staff members, five sabbatical officers, “and the volunteers who helped us hand out the books” could have all faced the criminal conviction and fines.
“As CEO of the company, this was not something I was able to stand over, and so I decided to follow the legal advice offered by the Union’s lawyer,” wrote Ascough.
“Many argue that the welfare of students is additionally affected as access to reproductive healthcare information was removed from them,” a pro-impeachment Facebook page says.
Information about abortion in countries neighboring Ireland is easily found on the Internet.