UCD Student's Union president faces impeachment after removing information on abortion services

An impeachment referendum has been called against the President of the UCD Student's Union.

Katie Ascough came under fire after she removed information about access to abortion services from a college guide for incoming students.

A petition of over 1,200 students was handed into the SU offices on Monday, and accepted by the Union's returning officer.

In an open letter to UCD students today, Ms Ascough defended her decision to withdraw the original version of the magazine, saying she was following legal advice.

“I was aware that the handbook contained abortion information, but was not informed by the editors of the book that it was illegal to distribute this information,” she stated this morning.

“I originally delegated the sign off for the handbook to the Campaigns & Communications Officer. After the books were printed and delivered, a staff member pointed out various issues including potential illegality of some of the content.

“I then sought legal advice regarding the abortion information from the Union’s long-standing lawyer who is an ex-president of USI and advocate for repeal of the Eighth amendment. He advised that it would be prudent to avoid proceeding with the current handbook either by having it redesigned or cancelled.

She also claims that the decision to reprint the guide was not hers alone.

“I also asked the Board of Directors for advice, and they agreed with the decision to follow legal advice. As CEO of the company, I decided to follow the advice of the Union’s lawyer with the Union Board’s agreement,” she stated.

“The cost of reprinting the handbooks was approx. €7,000. My suggestion to the Sabbatical Officers was that we publish the amended book online, and not incur this cost, but they were certain they wanted it reprinted.”

Ms Ascough also defended the second version of the publication, saying it contained "contact details for agencies where the same abortion information could be sought in a solicited, legal way".

"Essentially, the page went from showing the abortion information, to directing people to the places to get the same abortion information," she said.

The impeachment referendum will take place on October 25 and 26.

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