'Being young and pro-life isn't taboo - it's just out of touch' - young pharmacist responds to Katie Ascough
A YOUNG Irish pharmacist has refuted claims that being young and pro-life is "taboo" saying that it is "just out of touch".
Rebecca Gregan (26), a pharmacist from Co Clare, says that it's unfair to claim that young people are pro-choice because it is the perceived "cool thing" to do.
The young activist has spoken out after former UCD SU President Katie Ascough told Independent.ie that there has become a "stigma that being pro-life isn’t cool".
Katie Ascough, who was impeached from UCD last year after removing abortion information from student pamphlets, said that young pro-lifers are seen as "anti-cultural".
- Read More: 'It is not easy to be pro-life and young' - former UCD president Katie Ascough on the abortion referendum
Speaking to Independent.ie, pharmacist Rebecca said that her pro-choice peers' convictions "run deeper than a shallow attempt to seem cool".
"We're not trying to be cool. This referendum isn't about social media posts and 'Repeal' jumpers. We are trying to be empathetic with the hundreds of women across Ireland whose health has been compromised because of the constitution.
"The Eighth Amendment was brought in before our generation was even born and we're only now getting a chance to amend this outdated rule and protect our futures. We're the first generation in Ireland who has really stepped away from the confinement of the church and are looking to make our own decisions."
In response Katie Ascough said that it's "out of touch to continue to ignore science".
“Our generation knows more than any previous generation about the baby in the womb, and for that reason what is truly out of touch is for us to continue to ignore science. We know that at three weeks a child’s heart starts beating, at eight weeks their vital organs are formed, at 12 weeks the baby has fingernails, hair, and a fully formed face. How can we, in our advanced society, say that this child should have no rights whatsoever, and that it should be ok to end their life for any reason?" Ms Ascough said.
Rebecca also said that working as a pharmacist has allowed her to experience the consequences of the Eighth Amendment first-hand.
"As a pharmacist in Ireland, I am not allowed to give my patients advice on abortion. Women come to me everyday looking for advice on unplanned pregnancies and there is very little that I can do for them. The only thing I can do is offer the morning-after pill which can only be used five days after unprotected sex or refer someone back to their GP or to a pregnancy crisis centre. That's it.
"In February, I received a phone call at work from an anxious sounding girl. She was 17-years-old and suspected that she might be pregnant. She wanted to know her options. The stress and fear in her voice was palpable. She rang twice more at later intervals sounding increasingly more panicked with each call. She had no resources, no partner and no idea how to begin raising a child.
"It makes me really upset that I can't help these women. If a woman brings up abortion, all I can say is 'that isn't available in this country'. A patient has the right to all relevant information and the right to be able to make an informed decision based on personal choice."
The Clare native said that her family has also experienced the struggles faced by pregnant women in Ireland.
"When my mother became pregnant she was banished to a house in rural Ireland and forced to wear another woman’s wedding ring when she went outside.
"When her son was born she was refused a christening in a church before he was taken from her for adoption when just a week old.
"The trauma of that experience is still written across her face. It is something my family lives with every day."
Rebecca added that it's time people "stepped away from social media and engaged in real conversations".
"Social media has reached its saturation point. It's time to talk to friends and family and debate the issue properly. There are so many agendas and fake news online that you really can't trust what people are saying. Both sides have spent huge amounts of money on campaigns and ads and have agendas and sponsored posts online. This shouldn't be a campaign based on money. It should be about real people, and real stories and the ultimately the health of the women in this country."
The young pharmacist added that people need to be aware of what is fact and what is "scaremongering".
"People are swayed to vote more by feelings than facts. I hope that people don’t vote with fear based off the scaremongering and shock tactics the 'No' campaign are employing. I hope that they are compassionate to the women who have suffered under this amendment.
"I am genuinely concerned about the impact the 'No' campaign will have on vulnerable Irish women. The graphic posters must be extremely upsetting for anyone who has had to travel for an abortion or had a miscarriage - a group of approximately 300,000 people."