An Irish college student who was persecuted for her pro-life convictions received an award Wednesday from a leading pro-life group in the United Kingdom.
The Irish Times reports Katie Ascough received the Westminster Award in London for her “extraordinary and notable work and achievements that safeguard the dignity and right to life of human beings.”
Ascough was impeached as student body president of University College of Dublin in October after abortion activists blasted her for removing potentially illegal abortion information from a student handbook. Abortion is illegal in Ireland, and Ascough said the student Union’s lawyer advised that they remove the language.
Ascough, who is pro-life, said abortion activists on campus had been trying to find a way to get rid of her ever since she was elected.
On Wednesday, Ascough said she accepted the pro-life award on behalf of “the pro-life generation,” according to the Catholic Herald.
“I accept it not only on behalf of myself, but of all students and right-to-lifers more generally who suffer unjust discrimination because of their beliefs, in the teeth of bigotry and illiberalism from abortion advocates on campus or in wider society,” she said. “I urge such people to stay strong, and to follow the courage of their convictions. It may be difficult, but ultimately, I can assure them, it’s absolutely worth it.”
Here’s more from the report:
The award was presented by the UK group ‘Right to Life,’ in honour of their founder, Phyllis Bowman who was also a founder and director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). The society took a legal action against UCD Students’ Union in 1989 for publishing abortion information in their “Welfare Guide.”
Previous winners have included Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese human rights lawyer who challenged the country’s one-child policy, and Magnus MacFarlane-Barrow of the charity Mary’s Meals.
On the Right to Life website, it states that since her impeachment: “Ascough has spoken in favour of freedom to speak and to associate on campus for those with views that do not reflect the student union orthodoxy, such as right-to-lifers, becoming a symbol of the difficulties and determination of the student right-to-life movement. Ascough has also signalled her intention to campaign in favour of Ireland retaining the Eighth Amendment.”
Involving the abortion information in the student handbook, Ascough said she just was trying to protect the university and students. She said she would have put two dozen people at risk of huge fines and convictions if she had kept the abortion information in the booklet.
“I was unwilling to commit a criminal offence, risking conviction and fines for myself and anyone else involved in the distribution,” she said.
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Ascough said she always treated pro-abortion groups and students fairly, and did not allow her personal beliefs to get in the way of their clubs and activities. She said the impeachment vote really was about her pro-life stance on abortion. An indication of how strong abortion activism is on campus, Ascough said the UCD campaign for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment had a budget three times greater than that of any other campaign.
The Eighth Amendment in Ireland gives unborn babies a right to life. The country also has one of the lowest maternal mortality rates and some of the best health care for women in the world. However, abortion activists and some of the world’s richest men have been pushing the pro-life country to legalize abortion on demand.
Pro-life groups believe the campaign against Ascough is part of a larger effort by abortion activists to censor pro-life arguments in Ireland, The Guardian reports.
“They point to the cutting down of posters advertising [a pro-life] meeting in Dublin last month by two men who said they belonged to the leftwing party People Before Profit,” the report states. “The [pro-life] organisations also allege that hotels that were due to host pro-life events were intimidated and threatened to cancel the meetings.”
Ascough previously said she hopes the situation will expose the intolerance that pro-life students are being subjected to on university campuses today.
“To wish to boot someone out from day one because their opinion differs from yours is not conducive to fostering a respectful and inclusive community. There must be room to respect those with different opinions,” she said.