Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Ireland abortion referendum: Repeal the Eighth facts

Some Irish Catholics worried dismayed after abortion vote Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast rewritten or redistributed
Andrew Cummings | 27 May, 2018, 04:01

Irish voters cleared the way for abortions to be legal in their country for the first time by repealing a constitutional ban on the procedure and authorizing legislators to reflect the popular will by giving pregnant women a choice, results from a landmark referendum showed Saturday.

Jimmy Sweeney casts his vote in the referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, on Gola Island, off the coast of Donegal. "Thank you! Please vote yes", chirp the students, who have big smiles and colored sweaters with "REPEAL" emblazoned across the front. We witness again and again their wonder at the new life they have helped to create and the tenderness of their care for the infant who is so entirely dependent on them. "It's been very emotionally taxing", says Sinéad Clarke, 22.

"You can still passionately believe that the decision of the people is wrong, as I happen to do, and accept it", said McGuirk.

The same hashtag was used in the same-sex marriage referendum in 2016, encouraging ex-pats overseas to return to Ireland to vote.

Thousands of Irish emigrants, including people on both sides of the debate, are expected to travel home for the referendum, which does not allow postal votes from outside the country and requires returning voters to have been living overseas for less than 18 months.

If we recognise that there is a right to life before birth, we need to keep this Amendment in our constitution. Now under Irish law a woman who develops a health condition throughout her pregnancy, be it life threatening or otherwise, will be denied any medication and healthcare that her doctor feels poses any threat to the pregnancy, for fear of the legal repercussions.

The polling average for the referendum has narrowed since the start of the year, with many voters still saying they are undecided, although the Yes camp has retained a healthy lead in recent surveys.

"What we are witnessing here is the agricultural and farm community of rural Ireland coming together and expressing an opinion collectively in favour of change; in favour of deleting Article 43.3". The country has legalized easier access to contraception, divorce, homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

The issue has been revisited repeatedly after heartrending "hard cases" that, abortion rights activists say, exposed vulnerable women to miserable choices - and even, at times, death. Mr. Varadkar himself is Ireland's first - and one of the world's few - openly gay heads of government.

If Ireland votes yes, leadership has promised to regulate abortion.

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Downtown Dublin is forested in campaign posters, many of them grim.

About five Irish women a day buy abortion pills, Rebecca Gomperts, founder and director of Women on Web, which provides such tablets, told reporters in Dublin this month.

'I'm from Cork, now I'm hoping we're long lost sisters or something, ' another joked. In my home constituency, Dublin Central, upwards of 70 per cent of our canvassers on a given night are women in the 20s and early 30s - a 180 degree turn from the general demographic of political campaigning.

The vote is a "rejection of an Ireland that treated women as second-class citizens", she said, adding: "This is about women's equality and this day brings massive change, monumental change for women in Ireland, and there is no going back". At the former Catholic-run Mother and Baby Home in Bessboro historian, Sandra McAvoy detailed the mistreatment of unmarried mothers and children. Their babies were often given up for adoption.

We've seen over the last several weeks that civil society in Ireland has mobilised on this issue - on both sides.

Our heartbreaking experience taught us that such a decision should never be shrouded in shame and stigma.

Investigations into the forced clothes-washing factories, called the Magdalene Laundries, and other abuses perpetrated by Catholic clergy, including child abuse, have eroded the credibility of and support for the church in this largely Catholic country. "A quiet revolution has taken place", in a speech at Dublin Castle, where the referendum result was declared.

If Ireland votes "Yes" to repeal the Eighth Amendment, the existing article of the Constitution which was inserted in 1983, and the 1992 additions, will be replaced with this text: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy".

"I feel very emotional".

In an interview with Irish Tatler, she said: "You can use your womb if you want, it's the most attractive thing to do - if you want - but it's not our only reason to be put on this earth".

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