Saturday 24 August 2019

Katie Ascough: Abortion in cases of rape should not be legalised

Reveals plans to become a journalist following impeachment from UCDSU presidency

Katie Ascough
Katie Ascough

Mary McDonnell

THE FORMER president of the UCD students union, Katie Ascough who was impeached for removing abortion information from student pamphlets, has said abortion in cases of rape should not be legalised because a “child should not be sentenced to death for what their father has done".

The pro-life science student made the comments in an interview with RTE Radio 1’s Marian Finucane on Saturday.

Ms Ascough was the first UCDSU President to be removed from office after 69pc of voters chose to oust her in recent weeks.

She has now revealed she won’t be returning to UCD this year but plans to become a journalist after a turbulent impeachment campaign.

When asked for her thoughts on abortion in cases of rape, she told RTE Radio 1: “(Rape) is one of the most abhorrent crimes towards women and I completely condemn it. In fact I think we need to look at having more serious sentences for rapists in Ireland.

“But at the same time, I do not think that abortion is the answer to this.

Katie Ascough
Katie Ascough

“The child should not have to bear the brunt of their father’s crime. The child should not be essentially sentenced to death for what their father has done.”

Ms Ascough, whose father is on the board at the Iona Institute, said Irish women need more support during a crisis pregnancy but argued that legalising abortion would be importing “England’s problem”.

She said: “We must give Irish women more support but I don’t see the answer to the solution to that as being to import England’s problem. I do not think that’s what the Irish people want to see as the case here. We need better financial measures for single mothers. We need to improve adoption services because they are abominable and we need to show true compassion to these women in these situations.

“I think we need to support them in as many ways as we can but at the same time, when it comes to bodily autonomy, there are two people involved in a pregnancy. A child’s heart starts beating at 21 days. And I don’t think we can ignore that.”

The 20-year-old said her pro-life views were strengthened when her mother had a miscarriage at 13 weeks. Ms Ascough was 15 years old at the time.

Katie Ascough said: “There I was holding my little brother in my hands. I could look into his face. He had a perfectly formed face. He had fingernails. He had creases on his knuckles. He was just so perfectly human and so small. It really opened my eyes to the humanity of an unborn. That opened my eyes to how passionate I was about my pro-life views.”

Ms Ascough previously explained that she sought legal advice over the distribution of the ‘Winging It’ student magazines which sparked the controversy and eventually her ousting after an almost two-week-long campaign.

The information that was removed included pregnancy help websites, the prices of abortion in other countries, and information on abortion pills.

She said she removed the information after legal counsel advised her anyone involved in printing it could face criminal prosecution.

Now, the former SU President said she will not return to UCD but will focus on a career in journalism. 

She said: “I didn’t necessarily want to go back to UCD. I am kind of in the middle of the year so I don’t think I’ll be going back to UCD this year. I actually do plan on taking my three year degree in science and going on to journalism next because that’s what I’m interested in and I’d really like to start moving in that direction. I’ll be looking for a job.”

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