The Union of Students of Ireland (hereafter USI) has for some time advanced the worthy cause of women’s rights. However the USI’s current position on abortion neither advances the cause of women nor does it represent the views of Irish students. The USI describes on its website, under the heading “Gender Equality Campaigns”, its position as follows:
To fight for full reproductive justice for women in Ireland In Ireland, inequality is still rife against women. In no other area is this more evident that [sic] in the area of sexual and reproductive rights. Over 5000 women per year are exported to England and Europe in order to access safe and legal abortion, women experiencing crisis pregnancies are often subjected to rogue agencies who use methods of torture and abuse to direct womenâ€™s [sic] decision making and girls in crisis situations [sic] cannot avail of the morning after pill over the counter. The USI Gender Equality Campaign believes that a woman is entitled to have full decision making power over her reproductive system and to this end we campaign against the current system which discriminates against and endangers the lives of women.
While equality and personal freedom of women is certainly something which should be of onsideration to the USI, we contend that the promotion of an agenda which supports abortion is not representative of the views of students whom they represent nor is it in the best interests of the students of Ireland.
Recent national polls show strong support for legal protection of unborn life. Of the most recent poll, people in the age bracket 18-24, of which students would make up a large part, 85% favoured legal protection of the unborn. This figure is higher than the national average.
Apart from the fact that the current stance of the USI does not represent the opinions of the students, its statements regarding abortion are inaccurate. The quotation above which reports that over “5000 women per year are exported to England and Europe…” is inaccurate and would appear to reduce the women travelling to a “product.” In fact the number is closer to 4000 and has reduced each year since 2001. Furthermore there is no evidence to suggest that access to abortion is safer for pregnant women. On the contrary this country, where abortion is illegal, is the safest country in the world in which to be pregnant.
Aside from the unwillingness of the USI to acknowledge the dignity of the unborn child, the principal offence committed by the USI is their failure to recognise the enormous amount of psychological and emotional trauma experienced by a large number of women who have had abortions. Surely knowledge of this information is in the best interests of the student body. A recent study in the British Journal of Psychiatry, which drew together a large number of studies which discussed the psychological effects of abortion, found that women who had had abortions
were 81% more likely to experience mental health problems than those who did not. This study took into account many highly reputable studies included the Fergusson Study which was carried out over a period of 25 years.
Following this we request that the USI take the following actions:
1. Remove the inaccurate and insensitive description of its abortion campaign from its website.
2. Cease campaigning on the issue of abortion, since it neither represents nor is in the best interests of the students in this country.
3. Provide information to students about the possible negative consequences of abortion.
In order for the USI to be considered truly representative of those whom its claims to represent these changes must be implemented. We look forward to action in this regard.
-Written with the support of the all societies present at annual meeting of Pro-Life Societies,
March 31st 2012, Maynooth, Co Kildare.
 Millward, Brown, Lansdowne poll, September 2011. Excluding those who answered “Don’t know,” 78% favoured protection and 22% did not.
Those who don’t know or had no option are excluded from this figure.
 Cf. Johstons Abortion Archive, Historical Abortion Statistics, “Ireland,” actual
figures are closer to 20% less.
 Report on Maternal Mortality, UN, UNFPA, World Health Organisation 2010.
 Priscilla K. Coleman, Abortion and mental health: quantitative synthesis and analysis of research, published 1995–2009 BJP September 2011