I RECENTLY received a leaflet from the pro-life movement through my letter-box. The most interesting thing was that this was posted not hand delivered by a diligent volunteer. This seems to be a clear division between the people arguing for and against repealing the 8th amendment.
What is becoming extremely clear is that it tends to be younger people that support the pro-choice movement while it is undoubtedly older and more religious people that tend to support retaining the amendment.
This also tends to mean that the anti-abortion lobby has a lot more money to pump into their campaign. Yet this doesn’t mean that it is the prevailing opinion in the country. A recently released Irish Times poll revealed that the majority of people were in favour of repealing the 8th amendment. However, 55% were in favour of limited abortion. Only 19% supported “UK style” abortion.
In our last issue, we included an interview with Ruth Coppinger about the efforts to repeal the 8th. During the interview she expressed her belief that if there was a referendum tomorrow on the 8th amendment it would be repealed. However, given the numbers of people who still want restrictions on abortion, it seems unlikely that the amendment would be repealed right now. There needs to be more discussion and debate before that 55% will vote to outright repeal, with no idea of what will follow.
However, this is not only unfair but, as noted by the UN, it is inhumane. It is first and foremost a violation of a woman’s human rights. It is inconceivable that today women on this campus may fall pregnant yet not be afforded the choice that many other women across the world have.
These are women who are educated and independent. They are trusted to make the decision on which college they want to go to and what they want to do with the rest of their lives. However, if that includes not having children in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, this state does not trust them with that choice.
It is hypocritical of the state and the establishment to expect women to choose so much about their future yet refuse them all the options that they may need.
As UCDSU campaigns, with a democratic mandate, to repeal the amendment there has been a group set up calling for “Fair Representation.” They claimed that all they want is that the union should represent the views of all students and take no political stances. However, this would include stances on lobbying the government regarding accommodation, mental health and fees.
Budget 2017, which was announced today, is unlikely to include much for students. The Cassells report has yet to be presented by an Oireachtas committee and for a minority government on such shaky ground, their main concerns will be focused on more general issues. Students tend to only be noticed when times are good.
However, in order for students to be heard in the coming months and years, Students’ Unions will be vital. While the unions should give all students a chance to be heard, middle ground needs to be found where they can still adequately campaign for student issues. This cannot happen if the union is prevented from taking on any political stances.
Last week class reps were elected. Previously UCDSU and members of its staff have very deliberately stated that the only class representatives they were hoping for the year would be those who are pro-choice. While the majority of people on this campus, including most of the staff of this paper, would be in favour of repealing the 8th amendment, not all students in UCD agree. While it is a small minority, it is still there. These students should not be vilified or outlawed from the very Union that is set up to campaign for them.
A post on the UCD for choice Facebook page was removed after it was pointed out to the member of UCDSU staff that it could be akin to bullying. The post outlined that the union only want pro-choice students running for class reps.
Regardless of the views of each individual student on this campus, the union is obliged to help and campaign for their needs. This should be regardless of whether or not the members of staff personally agree or disagree with that student.