Ireland’s Abortion Ban Overturned in Historic Referendum

[Photo: Getty Images]

In an overwhelming landslide win of 66.4% to 33.6%; the Republic of Ireland voted to overturn the antiquated abortion ban last Friday. County Donegal, in Northwestern Ireland, was the only constituency to vote against repealing the Amendment, with 51.9% no votes.

Changing abortion laws

The day marked a monumental occasion for abortion rights activists, who argued that the Eighth Amendment was aimed at punishing and shaming women. They further debated the fact that the Amendment was essentially useless; since 1992 it had not stopped women from seeking abortions elsewhere (mainly in the United Kingdom).

The decision of the X Case of 1992 first permitted Irish women to travel abroad to receive abortions; while, in 2013, the death of Savita Halappanavar caused by sepsis after being denied an abortion triggered the government to permit a termination of pregnancy if a mother’s life was in danger.

A more liberal Ireland?

It is hoped that, after the referendum’s monumental ‘yes’ vote, the Irish Parliament’s legislation change will create more liberal Ireland.

On Friday, Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar, stated that a silent revolution had taken place in what was now an historic day for Ireland. He also said the vote emphasised that Ireland fully respected and trusted the ability of its women to make their own choices and decisions with their bodies.

In his powerful speech at Dublin Castle, Mr Varadkar added that the burden of shame and veil of secrecy had been lifted, along with lonely journeys across the Irish Sea for many women. While some voters did not welcome the result, the PM assured them that “Ireland today is the same as it was last week, but more tolerant, open and respectful.”

Europe, Woman International

Phoebe Egoroff

Founder and of Jurist International, a website focusing on the latest developments in international human rights and criminal law.

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