It has been confirmed to the University Observer that the current draft of the Winging It in UCD handbook contains illegal abortion information. This confirmation came from a source who had received legal advice regarding legality of the reprinted handbook.
UCDSU President Katie Ascough made an executive decision to remove the abortion information contained on the page and replace it with legal information.
Ascough received legal advice which said “The prudent course of action would be to avoid continuing with the current handbook,” but also “one would hope that a prosecution would not follow on the basis that the information, though in breach of the Act, is not egregiously so.”
Ascough made an executive decision against the wishes of the remaining sabbatical officers to recall the handbooks, some of which had already been handed out, and issue a redraft containing legal abortion information.
Under the 1995 Abortion Information Act (full title: Regulation of Information (Services outside the State for Termination of Pregnancies) Act 1995), information provided must not advocate or promote abortion.
Campaigns and Communications Officer Barry Murphy wrote a draft to replace the abortion information. This draft was not illegal. It provided the same information, but was phrased in such a way that it was comparing the costs of abortion in different countries, and could not be viewed as encouraging an individual to have an abortion.
Ascough refused to accept Murphy’s redraft, and wrote her own. Ascough’s redraft is printed in the current Winging It books. It provides a list of groups who an individual can contact to obtain abortion information and phone numbers for those groups.
Ascough wrote this draft and submitted it for print without seeking legal advice.
In Murphy’s open letter to UCD students, he confirms that “the current information is still illegal” and raises concerns that “Katie did not seek legal advice before sending the book to reprint.” Murphy asks the question that comes to mind “was she really concerned about the legal issue in the first place?”