In a move that will irk her critics, Katie Ascough accepted an award for her pro-life work on campaigning against abortion and denying women the right to choose.
The former UCD Student's Union President, who was impeached by UCD students back in October 2017, received the Westminster Award in London on Wednesday which recognises “extraordinary and notable work and achievements that safeguard the dignity and right to life of human beings”.
The award was given to Ascough by the anti-abortion UK group 'Right to Life', in honour of Phyllis Bowman. Bowman was a part of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). The society sued UCD Students' Union in 1989 for publishing information about abortion in their "Welfare Guide". Ascough's father is Tom Ascough, a director of the Iona Institute.
According to the Catholic Herald, the anti-abortion activist said she accepted the award on behalf of “the pro-life generation” and all people who find themselves in difficulty because they support the right to life of the unborn child.
I accept it not only on behalf of myself, but of all students and right-to-lifers more generally who suffer unjust discrimination because of their beliefs, in the teeth of bigotry and illiberalism from abortion advocates on campus or in wider society...I urge such people to stay strong, and to follow the courage of their convictions. It may be difficult, but ultimately, I can assure them, it’s absolutely worth it.
In 2017 Ascough found herself embroiled in controversy after she took the decision to order a reprint of a student handbook Winging It and remove information on how to get an abortion. She argued that she had made the decision in the wake of legal advice, in the face opposition from colleagues in the Student's Union.The reprint cost the union an estimated €8,000, with the referendum being called after a petition was signed by 1,200 students, seeking her removal from office.
The impeachment referendum held in October saw a 69% Yes vote in favour of Ascough's impeachment. The voter turnout was extremely high with almost 7,000 students voting across the two days, making it the largest vote in UCD history.