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Lockdown Skeptics

The Daily Sceptic

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Censorship at UCC

category cork | rights, freedoms and repression | news report author Thursday March 12, 2009 21:13author by Alan Davis - Cork Women's Right to Choose Groupauthor email at gmail dot com Report this post to the editors

UCC Societies Guild rejects application for pro-choice society

The Societies Guild at UCC has twice rejected applications to set up a pro-choice society on campus on the spurious grounds that this issue is already covered by other groups - including in their first rejection the ludicrous suggestion that this was done by the anti-choice "Students for Life".

Timeline of the political censorship of pro-choice views at UCC.

Monday 26 January – Societies Guild turn down application to set up pro-choice society:

"Your society application was brought before the Guild last evening. Unfortunately status was not approved. It is a decision that was ultimately made by a previous Guild and is being upheld. 'A society already exists which caters for debate in the area of abortion and choice'. Membership to this and all societies is open to all students in UCC. Thank you for your interest and I hope you join one of the many societies in UCC."

Friday 30 January – President of the Students Union says in an email that the application was rejected “due to flaws in the constitution.”

Tuesday 10 February –The Societies Guild confirms by email that the other society is the anti-choice “Students for Life who deal with many issues such as abortion, stem cell research etc.”

Thursday 12 February – Societies Guild suggest meeting up to discuss the failed application.

Wednesday 18 February – Stall at UCC by pro-choice activists for 2 hours collects over 100 signatures on a petition calling for overturning the decision.

Monday 2 March – Meeting with the Societies Guild indicates that a proposal for a broader-based society would be accepted.

Monday 9 March – Societies Guild turns down second application for a much more broadly based society:

"Thank you for your proposal which was discussed at last nights Guild meeting. Unfortunately it was decided not to grant status of the UCC Pro-Choice society at this time. Since the health promotion issues are covered by the UCC Slainte society and the debates on the topics are covered by the UCC Philosophical society it was thought that a society already exists that could cater for your needs. This would limit the remit of the UCC Pro-Choice society as well as the membership.

"Thank you for your interest in any case and I hope that you get involved in one of the eighty-four societies in UCC."

This is a clear and blatant case of political censorship and must be opposed. Send messages calling for this outrageous political censorship to be overturned to the Societies Guild at with copies to and

Let us know, at, if you want to help with making a big splash at UCC in Freshers Week in September – the pro-choice message will not be silenced!

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author by MGpublication date Thu Mar 12, 2009 23:41author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Yikes - I thought I had experienced a timeslip there and that we were back around 1989!

Horrendous to think that in this day and age college authorities engage in this level of ridiculous - and totally pointless - censorship.

Best of luck to the UCC Pro Choice Society!

author by Margaret O'Regan. - SWP.publication date Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:10author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I am one of the founder members of the Cork Family Planning Clinic, and it is amazing that, more than thirty years later, we still do not have free and open availability of contraceptives, nor has the government legislated for abortion (legal in certain circumstances, but still without guidelines in the form of legislation).

This decision by UCC Societies Guild is bizarre. It is unacceptable that they would say "the issue" is covered by other Societies in debate, and deeply insulting to students and others like me that they would cite an anti-choice Society as capable of filling the same role.

Far from being a debating issue only (and it is, of course, that also), the fight for the 'right to choose' in Ireland is a practical grassroots information and campaign activity. If young pregnant women are to have any semblance of control over their lives, the right to choose their own destiny is fundamental to their own planning of what is their future.

The Societies Guild, one would presume, exists to enhance the experience of UCC students for the duration of their studies. The students' welfare should be paramount. They are failing in their duty of care towards the student body in their willingness to prevent the setting-up of this Society. The members of the Societies Guild must lack foresight if they do not accept that things change constantly. They seem to me to be acting just like the GAA hierarchy in Cork - and just look at where it got them.

As a Cork City resident, I believe this campaign should be active within and outside UCC. Living in a university town, I have a vested interest in what is happening in UCC; this is my university too. This is winnable.

author by Gobopublication date Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:43author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Since they are clearly commited to their stance I would suggest getting as many pro-choice people as possible to join the pro-life society as suggested by the societies guild. Either this will lead to a succesful takeover bid or alternatively cause so much upheaval as to convince the guild that a pro choice society is perhaps the better alternative. It is disgraceful that there is still such a blatant aversion to open and balanced argument on this point. I feel a little sick with disgust after reading this article.

author by Gobopublication date Fri Mar 13, 2009 11:34author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Also if there are any U.C.C. students reading this could you let me know if they still refuse to give the morning after pill or pill in the U.C.C. health center? When I was there a couple of years ago they would give students in need of the morning after pill the name and telephone number of a doctor who charged something in the region of 40 euro for the visit and then more for the prescription. It was the Health center's policy to not prescribe or administer contraception to students. They were doing a damn fine job of looking after the female students welfare there.

author by DCU graduatepublication date Sat Mar 14, 2009 22:44author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I don't know about Cork, but certainly about 6 years ago when I was a DCU student, the Health Centre there was doing the same thing - sending students who showed up looking for a morning-after pill over the road (literally) to the fee-paying GP surgery.

Btw, I do like the idea of pro-choice UCC students joining the anti-abortion society en-masse and taking it over. Poetic justice!

author by Alan Davis - International Bolshevik Tendencypublication date Mon Mar 16, 2009 22:49author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A comment (now deleted for breaking the guideline on discussing editorial matters) suggested that the UCC Pro-Choice Society was "self-censoring their actual aims behind a nice cuddly-sounding euphimism" and should change it's name to "The U.C.C. pro-Abortion Society".

The name of the proposed UCC society is actually completely accurate.

The proposed society has presented two constitutions. The first focussed on reproductive rights, including, though not exclusively, abortion rights. The second took a wider brief with its stated aim being "Primarily to promote issues of reproductive justice for students based on the concept that good reproductive health and access to reproductive and sexual health services is an issue of social justice."

This is clearly not reducible to simply being "pro-abortion".

Being for the right to abortion no more means being "pro-abortion" in any particular pregnancy than being for the right to divorce means that any particular couple should split up. But if a woman decides she wants to have an abortion, or if either party in a marriage wants a divorce, then they should have that right.

And like any other medical procedure abortion should be safe, easily available and free. In Ireland this links the fight for free and safe abortion on demand as an integral part of the struggle for both women's liberation and access to free health care for all.

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author by ucc studentpublication date Mon Mar 16, 2009 23:22author address author phone Report this post to the editors

So how come "reprductive rights, including though not exclusively abortion rights ......" etc etc etc is "reductable" (Huh?!) to "simply" "pro choice"?

And what point are you trying to make anyhow? And what in heavens name is the fact that any pregnancy might be terminated by abortion, or any marriage might end in divorce got to do with a cowardly choice of name anyhow?

The reason why pro-choice was chosen as the name for this society was because its promoters are aware of the abhorrence or distaste most people have for abortion. In the realm of "choice" the choice of name for the proposed society is a funk and cop-out.

And by the way, I have a deep distaste and abhorrence of censorship, and I fully support the cowardly promotors of this organization to have their outfit recognized like any other student society.

I am thinking myself of applying to have a Anti-Jargon Society recognized.

author by Alan Davis - International Bolshevik Tendencypublication date Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Well of course any society like this isn't "simply reducible" to a particular name but it is fairly clear that "pro-choice" is a much more accurate reflection of the aims of the proposed society than "pro-abortion" would be, as my analogy with the right to divorce shows.

The society wants to promote the idea that people have the right to choose how they control all their reproductive processes, including the right of women to choose whether to have an abortion or not.

The promoters of this society are in no way "cowardly" as we openly state our support for a women's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion. In Ireland women are denied the right to exercise that choice so exposing, and attempting to overturn, that democratic deficit will necessarily form an important part, but not all, of our activities.

author by ucc studentpublication date Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:30author address author phone Report this post to the editors

You have a "right to choose" to have your unborn child aborted in England or elsewhere in the EU at the price of a Ryanair ticket.

You have a "right to choose" FGM for your daughter in Somalia and several other countries in North East Africa.

You have a "right to choose" whom your daughter shall marry in parts of Pakistan.

All of these "rights to choose" are unavailable within Ireland because they are in fundamental conflict with our values.

However, I would presume that you are not campaigning for a "right to choose" generally and that the main thrust of this group is to lobby for another referendum (just like our native euro-nuts who won't accept "no" for an answer either) on the legalization of non-therapeutic abortion in Ireland.

You should have the guts to call a spade a spade and stop all the tedious beating about the bush about "reproductive rights (Didn't you know that condoms are available at several sites on campus, and that contraceptive advice is available from Student Medical Services?

You should get out more often.

author by ucc gradpublication date Tue Mar 17, 2009 13:32author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Surely the point is that the so called values you ascribe to the entire Irish population is not a fair reflection on what quite a significant proportion of the population want or believe. This is evidenced in the daily reality of Irish women facing unwanted pregnancies and choosing to terminate it abroad. Countless women are denied that choice because they lack the financial resources to do so. If UCC students want to organise to discuss the issues surrounding this debate then good on them. They want to represent on campus the section of society who have a different opinion and values to your own. If one of the aims of this society is to push for a referendum then so what..its clearly something that would be welcomed by many and there are many political parties who have societies in UCC who I'm sure spend a good proportion of their time pushing for various referenda..

author by uscc studentpublication date Tue Mar 17, 2009 16:38author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Dear UCC Grad,

Obviously you haven't bothered to read the earlier postings in this exchange of views.

If you had, you would have realized that I am 100% behind the request to have this "freedom of choice" outfit recognized as a student society.

My argument was on other grounds.

The only part of what you say that I would take serious issue with is the ridiculous idea that anyone in this era of cheap flights is prevented from getting an abortion because of expense. Your fellow UCC graduate, Michael O'Leary, sorted out that problem years ago.

author by Alan Davis - International Bolshevik Tendencypublication date Wed Mar 18, 2009 06:45author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Actually I am not for the "right" of parents to impose either FGM or an arranged marriage on their children. But of course this is all a red herring. The aim of the proposed society is not an abstract "right to choose" but rather specifically to do with deepening and extending already existing reproductive rights, such as those to do with the availability of contraception and sex education, and making some headway in those areas, such as access to abortion, where those rights are denied or restricted.

As I have already openly stated, the lack of safe, easy and free access to abortion remains one of the central restrictions on reproductive rights in Ireland and so, to quote my previous comment, "exposing, and attempting to overturn, that democratic deficit will necessarily form an important part, but not all, of our activities."

Your continued claims, all evidence to the contrary, that the proposed pro-choice society involves some hidden agenda makes it pretty clear that you would actually like to deny women the right to control what happens to their own bodies - I see little point in continuing this discussion and can only hope that your "arguments" have had as little impact on other readers of these comments as they have had on me.

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author by Nausedopublication date Sat Mar 28, 2009 22:27author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Just to let everyone know the Health Centre does prescribe both the pill and morning after pill. It also provides the morning after pill on site. The doctors are extremely understanding and non-judgemental. I believe there are also plans to introduce Chlamydia testing on site, funding permitting. The student's union also lobbies on reproductive health and does information campaigns, provides free condoms and support in the case of crisis pregnancies.

It seems to me that the issue with the Pro-Choice Society is bias within the Societies Guild (particularly considering the SU's declaration that the Societies Guild was a constitution issue, implicitly throwing their support behind the formation of a Pro-Choice Soc). It is well known that the Societies Guild is made up of many conservative members and does not necessarily represent the views of the student body as a whole, being elected by societies as opposed to the student body directly.

Abortion is not cheap, but your glib comments about Ryanair are. Women who have abortions abroad must go privately...meaning that most abortions cost at least 1000 pounds.

Clearly most people in Ireland do not find the idea of abortion abhorrent. Between 6000 and 10000 women abroad a year to have abortions. Considering our population that's massive. People voted down the most recent proposed constitutional amendment to ban abortion in cases of suicide risk. Opinion polls show people's attitude towards abortion is liberalising

Lastly it is not disingenuous to for people to label themselves or a society as Pro-Choice. To label yourself as Pro-Abortion would suggest that you believe that women who are facing a crisis pregnancy should have an abortion, i.e. you a pro-abortion. Being Pro- Choice, on the other hand, means that you believe that women who are unhappy about being pregnant and for whatever reasons they may have, choose to end that pregnancy, should be allowed to end that pregnancy in their own country with the support of trusted medical professionals.

By the way to compare people who choose to make choices about their own bosy to those who mutilate and torture their children or paedophiles is ignorant and shameful. Also most people who do those things in those countries are doing it illegally, there is just little enforcement of laws.

author by Galwegian.publication date Fri Apr 24, 2009 07:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I'm from Galway but work in Cork.

Cork is a very conservative and class divided city overall.

The class division between the Northsiders (disparagingly called "Norries")and southsiders is stark.

Cork is the the "least progressive" city I have ever lived in.

And I've lived in quite a few European cities.

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