A 20 year-old student at the University College Dublin (UCD) who was impeached from her position as student union president because of her pro-life views says she’ll never lose her passion for defending life.
LiveAction is reporting on the story of UCD Student Union president Katie Ascough, who was elected to her position last March but was recently impeached after she removed information from the student union’s magazine advising students on how to procure an illegal abortion.
“The ‘scandal’ that led to my impeachment was about abortion information contained in a college-guide handbook,” Ascough explained to LiveAction’s Cassy Fiano.
“In keeping with my promise to respect the pro-choice mandate of the union, I delegated the sign-off of the content of the books to another officer. After the books were printed, a staff member pointed out some of the abortion information might be illegal. The union’s lawyer confirmed we were risking personal criminal convictions and up to €4,000 in fines each for anyone involved in the distribution of the books, according to Ireland’s 1995 Act regulating abortion information.”
In spite of what she described as “intense pressure” to authorize distribution of the books, Ascough said she was not willing to risk a personal criminal record for the rest of her life and decided the information had to be amended to stay within the law.
“However, soon after I decided to amend these books, a group of students, some of whom had been calling for my impeachment since the day of my election (many resented my pro-life views), decided to start collecting signatures to call for my impeachment. The narrative they used was that their president had ‘censored’ abortion information.”
Although this was hardly true, the petition went viral on campus, likely aided by those who already resented her pro-life views. In the end, 69 percent of the student body voted to oust her from the presidency.
“I ran for president to deliver for students on a wide range of issues,” Ascough said, and admits to having worked 12 hours a day at the job. “I was so, so passionate about my job and improving the college experience for UCD students. I feel it’s a shame and a setback to have been pushed out in the middle of my term.”
But the injustice has done nothing to quell her passion for defending the unborn, a desire that came to life the day she met her 13-week-old baby brother, Lawrence, who has just been lost to a miscarriage.
“I’ll never forget looking into his face, and admiring his hands which had fingernails and even creases on his knuckles. His details were truly amazing; at just 13 weeks he was so incredibly and perfectly human. That was the moment I knew I would never lose my desire and passion for protecting life.”
She became a regular at pro-life rallies, vigils, conferences, and was honored to serve as spokesperson for the Pro-Life Campaign and Students for Life Ireland last year.
These views did not endear her to the abortion supporters on campus.
“Those who staunchly campaigned against me during my presidency tried everything from ‘Do-Not-Vote-for-Ascough’ Facebook pages to vile language on Twitter to try and deter voters. Once I was elected, some of those who vehemently wrote about why not to vote for me, instantly switched to writing about why students should impeach me,” she said.
Rather than scare her off, it only made her more outspoken about the intolerance on many Irish campuses for those who believe in the sanctity of human life.
“What disappoints me the most about campuses isn’t merely the lack of pro-life voices— it’s the silencing and shaming of anything pro-life. I have several friends, very pro-life friends, who were originally petrified at the thought of sharing their pro-life views in college. Being openly pro-life, I’ve received everything from threats of physical abuse to violent name-calling and derogatory comments. It can be a scary world to be pro-life in,” she said.
However, she remains fully convinced that there is a much larger group of pro-life and undecided students on campuses than we’re aware of because of how effectively they’ve been silenced by abusive abortion supporters.
“Several students, to whom I had no connection, have said to me that they are pro-life, but not openly so, and that they were encouraged to see me be open and vocal about my beliefs,” she said.
She believes the pro-life view is going to become much more prevalent on campus as the country gears up for the national referendum on whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment which makes abortion in Ireland illegal.
For example, some campuses in Ireland have had referenda on student’s views on abortion, which turned out to be majority pro-abortion, but only 10 to 30 percent of the student population voted. What about the other 70 to 90 percent?
“ . . . [T]o see such low turnout on the most controversial topic which has been seen to divide nations, on campuses which are supposed to be some of the most vocal places for this issue, does beg the question: how many students are undecided or apathetic on the issue of abortion? It would seem that there are quite a few,” Ascough said.
This courageous young woman is not alone in her quest to claim her right to voice her opinion in an increasingly intolerant public square. Our Young Women of Grace study highlights numerous teens and young women who are challenging the political correctness of our time – and are scoring surprising wins.
For example, Lila Rose, the founder of LiveAction, was only 15 years old when she founded the organization that would become of the nation’s largest grassroots prolife organizations. Lia Mills was only 12 years old when her eight-minute video defending the unborn went viral on YouTube. Tess Volanski was just 14 and her sister, Sydney, was only 16 when they decided to speak up about the Girl Scouts’ involvement with Planned Parenthood and launched a website detailing these and other ties to the abortion industry.
Young women can – and are – making a difference in our world today, which is drawing attention to some of the most important issues of our time.
“I believe my impeachment has highlighted the issue of intolerance, both in our campus and in our country,” Ascough said. “I hope we can have an increased awareness of this issue, and start to build more inclusive, open, and respectful communities going forward.”
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