Morning after pill debate heats up student union congress

Morning after pill debate heats up student union congress
Mar 28th, 2008

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A long and heated debate on the ‘morning after pill’ ended in what was described yesterday as the Union of Students in Ireland’s first ever tied vote at their annual congress where delegates from student unions have been gathered this week.

The motion at the union’s annual congress in Bettystown in Meath had proposed that the student body work with other groups to lobby the government to make the pill available over the counter without prescription.

But, passionate exchanges between the yes and no sides ended with delegates from third level institutions splitting the vote 71 — 71, failing the majority needed to pass the proposal.

To booing from some of the delegates, a speaker against the proposals called the morning after pill “the mildest form of abortion”, while a student said “There’s more conservatism in this room then at a Mike Huckabee rally”.

Responding to opposition comments that pregnancy as a problem is a “blip on the map” compared to other STIs, Linda Kelly of UCC SU questioned: “Pregnancy is a blip on the map? It’s a very big blip on the map to introduce another human life into the world. STIs have antibiotics; you can’t get an antibiotic to bring up a child. It’s a very big issue when someone gets pregnant.”

Before the vote both sides said that the were using the facts, while accusing their opposition’s facts were “wrong”, “made-up” and “lies”

“There’s a lot of emotion evolved in this argument, there’s a lot of people on either side, there’s very little scientific fact. We really
would be taking a decision which is really dangerous, it’s not a financial decision which can be gone back on, it has consequences for all involved, and USI as an origination, please throw out this motion,” said Ciarán Nevin from DIT.

One student welfare officer said: “The number one call I get at the weekend is ‘where is the morning after pill’ from very distressed girls who are very upset. I don’t know how to say this as a man speaking on behalf of woman, but I’ve never meet a girl or woman who took this likely.”

Within the debate, speakers mostly greeted a high number of ‘points of information’ from the floor with “no, thank you.” While points of order
came from both the chair and the floor.

The session on the motion — which was proposed by UCC’s Student Union – lasted so long that before the final vote occurred three suggestions
were made that most points had been given and the remanding speakers should be skipped. The first two attempts to move to a vote were rejected by the vast majority of delegates.

The union will now also campaign the Government for minimum wage to be paid to all adult workers. Although there were some arguments from
speakers against the move, which said it would endanger the competitiveness of students and new entrants to the work force, the motion passed.

Ryan Griffin, USI Equality Officer said: “The minimum wage law gives employers a licence to exploit young adult workers. The Government says it is ok for thousands of adults to be paid just

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