DUBLIN: Voters made history with the Ireland Abortion Referendum repealing the current ban on abortion. Nearly 66.4 percent of voters supported the repeal, in contrast to the 33.6 percent who voted against the repeal. The Ireland Abortion Referendum reverses a ban that has been in place since 1983. Before the repeal, the countries Eighth Amendment said that an unborn child has the same right to life as a pregnant woman. Abortion is not permitted in cases of rape, incest or fetal abnormalities.
Voter turnout was among the highest for a referendum, according to Politico. However, Catholics, Protestants and the Orange Order all agree that abortion should remain illegal.
Ireland’s Quiet Revolution for abortion rights
Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar supported the reversal. The P.M. says the vote was the culmination of a “quiet revolution.” The repeal comes after Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote, back in 2015.
While Ireland is a deeply religious country, Ireland managed to legalize divorce by a slim majority in 1995. Scandals over the last 20 years have damaged the Roman Catholic Church inside the country. Siobhan Donohue, chairwoman for Termination for Medical Reasons, called the result a historic step forward.
Donohue needed to travel to Britain to have an abortion when her baby diagnosed with a fetal anomaly.
Donohue has said while the repeal was successful, the fight is still not over. For now, Irish citizens will have to travel to Britain, if they want to have an abortion.
Despite, Ireland Abortion Referendum, abortion remains illegal in Northern Ireland.
According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, 10 Irish women a day cross the Irish Sea to receive an abortion. Three to five women a day illegally obtain abortion pills. Anti-abortion groups in Ireland say the results are disappointing. The government is requesting that the law allow access to abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Amnesty International called the result a victory for respect, equality, and dignity. Politico reported that young adult voters offered the most support for the repeal, with nearly 80 percent of those under 34, voting in favor.
Being a part of the United Kingdom, women are demanding the same rights and access to healthcare as women on the mainland. Because of Northern Ireland’s laws, the UN has ruled that the UK is currently violating women’s rights.
The end of the ban comes after a lengthy and emotional campaign.
Amnesty International Poll
In October 2016, Amnesty International published the results of an opinion poll on abortion law. The groups, “using face-to-face interviews with a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 16+, in multiple urban and rural locations across Northern Ireland” found that:
– 72% of people think abortion should be available if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest;
– 67% of people think abortion should be available in cases of fatal fetal abnormality;
– 58% of people think abortion should be decriminalized so there would be no criminal penalty for women who have abortions in Northern Ireland;
– 59% of people think abortion should be decriminalized so there would be no criminal penalty for doctors and medical staff who assist women to have abortions in Northern Ireland;
– 68% of people think the fact that in most cases abortion is classified as a crime in Northern Ireland adds to the distress of women seeking an abortion;
– 75% of people think the fact that women from Northern Ireland who are seeking a lawful abortion must travel to England adds to their distress;
– 71% of people agreed that that having to travel to England for a lawful abortion has a disproportionately negative impact on women with low income;