Ireland overturns strict abortion laws as masses celebrate

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The Republic of Ireland has overwhelmingly overturned the country’s abortion laws in a historic referendum that took place on Friday. According to the previous legislation, abortion was strictly prohibited in the country. The result of the vote revealed a two-thirds majority. In the result, 66.4% voted yes against 33.6% votes for no. Immediately after the result, celebrations broke across the country and the referendum is being hailed by many as revolutionary.

The Prime Minister said the result showed the Irish public “trust and respect women to make their own decision and choices.”

The Irish Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar praised the outcome and commented, “The people have spoken. They have said we need a modern constitution for a modern country”.

According to a report in BBC, he also said,”It is a historic day for Ireland, and a quiet revolution has taken place.”

“It’s also a day when we say no more. No more to doctors telling their patients there’s nothing can be done for them in their own country, no more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea, no more stigma as the veil of secrecy is lifted and no more isolation as the burden of shame is gone.”

Mr. Varadkar said the result showed the Irish public “trust and respect women to make their own decision and choices.”

Previous laws

The Irish law only allows abortion when a woman’s life is at complete risk and not in cases of rape, fatal foetal abnormality or incest. The Eighth Amendment grants equal right to life to the mother and the unborn baby. After the vote, this provision is set to be repealed. Now the law will be introduced to legalise abortion for upto 12 weeks after pregnancy.

Statistics reveal popular sentiment

All constituencies except one voted ‘Yes’ by a significant margin. In Donegal, 51.9% voted for ‘No’, thus making it the only constituency where the Eighth Amendment repeal wasn’t welcomed by the people. The countrywide majority has paved way for reforms in abortion laws in the country.

Ireland’s national broadcaster RTE had previously signalled in an exit poll that the vote to repeal is likely to win. As a result, a huge number of people gathered on the streets of Dublin in an early show of celebration. People were awaiting results and simultaneously chanting “Yes” on the streets with joy. With this, Northern Ireland now remains the only country in the UK and Ireland region to have a complete ban on abortion. The vote has raised hopes of a referendum on the same lines for Northern Ireland.

Many women have unfortunately died due to a denial of abortion. In 2012, Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old woman died from a septic miscarriage in Galway after being denied an abortion. The movement gained momentum after similar cases emerged from other areas.

In Ireland, another historic referendum took place three years ago related to same-sex marriage. As a result, same-sex marriage is legal in the country.

Read: The A word: Why Abortion Remains A ‘bad’ Word