UCD Life Society has launched an online campaign in a bid to highlight “unbiased scientific facts” behind abortions.
The campaign will feature a series of videos in which Dr Anthony Levatino describes the medical and surgical procedures of abortion, and describes the effects of the procedures on the foetus. Dr Levatino is an obstetrician-gynaecologist, who worked as a doctor performing abortions, claiming to have performed over 1,200.
Levatino’s stance on abortion changed following the death of his adopted daughter when she died at the age of six after being hit by a car. He is now a pro-life advocate and provides information about abortion procedures in the hopes to show ‘the reality of abortion,’ and to change the views of pro-choice individuals.
The University Observer spoke with UCD Life Society anonymously at the group’s request, “due to the hostile atmosphere on campus towards pro-life students at present…in order to get an alternative viewpoint out without the risk of ad hominem attacks.”
UCD Life Society is not a recognised society of UCD Societies. It was previously a recognised society, but has not received recognition in recent years “causing the group to go underground.” The unofficial society has been largely dormant in recent times. However, in their press release for the Abortion Facts campaign, the group cite the impeachment of former UCDSU President Katie Ascough “based on her pro-life views” as the turning point for the group.
A Pro-Life Conference took place in the RDS in early December, during which the society were active covering the speakers. Katie Ascough launched the Love Both Project app at the conference, something which the group were very proud of on their Facebook page. The app can be downloaded for free on android and apple.
When asked if Ascough has any involvement with UCD Life Society, they reply saying: “Katie has inspired so many students to get active in the pro-life movement, both in UCD and on other campuses. Since she is no longer a student, she would not be able to have an active role in the society.”
UCD Life Society says their group is more than advocating against abortion, and they aim “to promote the dignity of human life from conception to natural death, through reasonable and informed discussion on the issues of abortion, euthanasia, gendercide, and other pro-life issues at UCD.”
The group say they have not received society recognition in recent years based on “reasons [that] seem to be technical in nature.” They believe that if the society applies for recognition this year “there is no conceivable reason that the society would not be granted recognition under the rules of the Societies Recognition Committee…as Life Society UCD focuses on a myriad of pro-life issues…which will always be relevant.
For students interested in getting involved with the group, they are “running a Facebook campaign for students to sign up and get involved through a Facebook form, or alternatively, one could send a message to the [Facebook] page.” At the moment, the group are unsure of their membership numbers, but state that they “currently have more than 550 likes on Facebook and almost 150 Instagram followers.”
In their press release, the group state: “Life Society UCD hopes that UCD Students’ Union and UCD For Choice will follow their example by providing scientific facts on abortion prior to a referendum on the 8th Amendment.” While they say “there is no reason to accuse the Union or UCD For Choice of intentionally hiding any information” they add “we feel that students should know the facts on abortion and the multitude of organisations with which the Union and UCD For Choice associate themselves in the name of UCD students. It would certainly be appropriate for these groups to ensure that students had all the relevant facts to hand prior to voting in the referendum, allowing for a real and effective freedom to choose on the abortion issue to be fostered on campus.”
Speaking to the University Observer, UCD for Choice say they “are glad to see such a passionate interest in the facts related to abortion and cannot wait to engage in discussions where the facts and evidence take centre stage.”
Contrary to UCD Life Society, UCD for Choice believe that, as has been highlighted by “the 8th Committee and the Citizens Assembly, when facts and objective analysis are the focal point of the discussion, it becomes clear that repeal is the only solution.”
UCD for Choice “respect the presence of an anti-abortion voice on campus, and look forward to engaging with them in civilised debate about abortion facts…It is our intention to provide accurate information and facts in the run-up to the repeal referendum next year.”
Both UCD Life Society and UCD for Choice say that the recent controversies within UCDSU have resulted in increased interest from students in their respective causes.
The Irish government has promised a referendum on repealing the 8th amendment to take place in 2018. UCDSU will be campaigning for a repeal of the amendment, as per its pro-choice mandate which has been voted on twice by the students of UCD.