Former UCDSU President Katie Ascough has announced that she will be actively campaigning for the anti-abortion side in Ireland's upcoming referendum on abortion.
Ms. Ascough was removed from office as president of UCDSU on October 27 after an impeachment referendum, which was called due to her decision to remove information pertaining to how to access safe and legal abortion services in England from a UCDSU handbook, Winging It, which was meant to be disseminated to first years. The referendum resulted in 69% of the voting electorate voting for her to be impeached.
There had been some speculation, speculation which I was only happy to jump on board with yesterday, that she would consider running for the position of president in the SU again after she refused to rule out the possibility during an appearance on The Pat Kenny Show in the immediate aftermath of her impeachment.
Well, during an interview on The Marian Finucane Show yesterday she implied that she will instead be focusing on campaigning against the proposed loosening of Ireland's abortion laws in the upcoming referendum - presumed to be taking place in either May or June of 2018. She discussed various issues around the debate, saying that, instead of bringing Ireland's abortion laws in line with England's, we should instead be providing greater financial support to single mothers and a better infrastructure for the process of adoption.
While these are commendable aims in themselves, they are not in anyway mutually exclusive from a loosening of abortion laws. However, the ire of many listeners was raised when she discussed the subject of abortion in the case of rape. She said that she was opposed to abortion in cases of rape as the child should not be punished for the abhorrent actions of their biological father. “Rape is one of the most abhorrent crimes towards women and I completely condemn it. In fact I think we need to look at having more serious sentences for rapists in Ireland."
Again, the sentiment that greater punitive measures should be taken against rapists is commendable, however, while undoubtedly a very complicated issue, opposing abortion in this instance denies the victim any bodily autonomy and forces them to undergo further suffering and unnecessary heartache.
As the debate surrounding the abortion referendum gathers steam and inevitably cements itself in the centre of public discourse over the following months, it is evident that Ms. Ascough, the daughter of Iona Institute board of directors member Tom Ascough, will be heavily involved in the debate.