UCD student and spokesperson for UCD Students Against Abortion Samuel O’Connor has handed in a petition to UCD Students’ Union President Mícheál Gallagher asking him to reconsider the Union’s current position on abortion. UCDSU recently adopted a stance that supports the legalisation of abortion in Ireland upon request of the woman, view after students voted on the issue in a preferendum which was held on campus.
The petition, which was organised by O’Connor and handed into the UCDSU offices last Friday, has so far gathered over 45 signatures. The petition is addressed to Gallagher and asks him “to re-consider the pro-abortion stance and return to the situation that existed before the preferendum, where every student’s personal beliefs on this delicate issue were respected.” It also explains that those who have signed it no longer feel that UCDSU represents them or their views.
Gallagher has defended the union taking a position on the abortion issue, telling the College Tribune that “UCDSU, as fundamentally stated in its constitution, is a democracy. Students make decisions on all issues, and in such cases the referendum is the supreme decision making structure. This democracy is reflected through all structures in the Union. During the recent abortion preferendum, no campaign was organised in favor of either option A or C.” He also stated that he believes the union should have a position on matters that are relevant and of interest to students.
However the students involved in the petition believe it was “profoundly unwise of union officers to try and force a one-size-fits-all morality on the student body” and that “association with an organisation that actively campaigns for something which runs contrary to the very core of my morality is not something which is ethically conscionable”. If the SU refuses to change their stance on the issue, the students involved have threatened to disassociate themselves from the Union and will advise the University to withdraw their names from the list of Union members. They have also stated that any funds which would have been paid to the Union stemming from their attendance in UCD should be redirected to another part of the University.
According to Gallagher it is possible for another referendum on the issue to take place if students want to change the Unions stance once again “A student could collect the required signatures to have another referendum on this or any other issue. Alternatively, they could have a referendum by direction – in which a motion passed by council will mandate a referendum to take place.”
The abortion preferendum took place on the 1st and 2nd of October this year and had a total valid poll of 2527. 45% of votes were in favour of legalising abortion upon request of the woman whereas only 8% supported an anti-abortion stance. 19% of the voters believed that the Union should take no stance on the issue.
Read more on this:
News in Focus: Change or Let Us Leave, Demand Students
Editorial: A Union at a Crossroads