UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) Council has passed a motion to make official links with the coalition to Repeal the 8th Amendment and to actively campaign for a woman’s right to choose. The motion, raised at a meeting of Council on Monday October 20th, noted concern with UCDSU’s lack of active involvement in the national campaign. The motion follows from the results of last October’s preferedum on UCDSU’s stance on reproductive rights. 47% of the total valid poll voted to adopt a pro-choice policy of supporting the legalisation of abortion in Ireland “upon request of the woman.”
The 8th Amendment introduced a constitutional ban on abortion in 1983 and a repeal cannot be legally or constitutionally recognised until Article 40.3.3 is removed from the Irish Constitution.
The official links which UCDSU have agreed to establish are in line with the involvements already in place with other Students’ Unions with similar pro-choice policies, such as Trinity College Dublin and NUI Galway.
Speaking after the passing of the motion, a spokesperson for the UCDSU stated, “We will work to articulate this pro-choice mandate and will liaise with those organisations that are working to repeal the 8th amendment.”
The motion also acknowledged conscientious objectors and noted that “no member morally opposed shall be forced to engage in active campaigning.” The UCDSU spokesperson added, “In relation to the conscientious objectors, we of course recognise that there are those in the university who object to our pro-choice stance. Simply because we have a pro choice stance does not in any circumstances mean that we would turn anybody away who would hold positions that diverge from ours.”
The motion was proposed by Grace Williams, Gender Equality Coordinator of UCDSU who said that it was the “logical step” and that it was a “natural progression to question what that pro-choice stance meant for the SU” and believes “it is the place of the SU to campaign to protect those who are most vulnerable within the student body”. The motion was seconded by Sam Blanckensee, LGBTQ+ Coordinator. Speaking after the motion was passed, Blanckensee added, “I was so glad it passed because I don’t believe that just providing information is acting on the referendum which gave us a stance as a pro-choice union. I believe this gives us a platform from which to act on one of the most important human rights issues in Ireland.”
Furthermore, the motion allowed for the inclusion of “not only those who identify as women but all those who are female assigned at birth”. On this, Blankensee added, “I am also glad that the motion was extremely trans* inclusive because that is quite unprecedented in Ireland. I wouldn’t have seconded a motion that wasn’t.”