For decades, women in the United States have been fighting to keep abortion legal. But across the Atlantic, Irish women have been living without access to abortion for years. However, that could change tomorrow, May 25th, when Ireland will vote on whether or not to repeal the restrictive 8th amendment. And to make sure their voices are heard, Irish citizens from across the globe are flying #HomeToVote in this Irish abortion referendum.
What is the 8th amendment?
According to the Irish Times, the 8th amendment was added to the Irish constitution after a 1983 referendum, when it earned 67 percent of the vote. The text of the amendment reads “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” It prohibits the termination of pregnancy in almost every instance, except for when the mother’s life is in danger.
In 1992, the law was changed to allow women to seek abortions outside the country after one 14-year-old girl became suicidal when she was prevented from doing so.
The 8th amendment has faced strong opposition in recent years. The 2012 death of 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar after she was denied an emergency abortion fueled anger against the amendment. And in March 2017, protesters drove a bus across the country to fight for abortion rights.
So what happens if the 8th amendment is repealed?
According to the Independent, if Ireland votes “Yes” to repeal the 8th amendment, lawmakers would then have to decide how to respond to the Irish abortion referendum. The government has reportedly suggested that it would allow unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks, with exceptions allowed after that for health complications.
In the days leading up to the Irish abortion referendum, expats have been flying #HomeToVote and posting their journeys on Twitter.
After tomorrow’s vote, women in Ireland could finally have access to safe, legal abortions. We wish everyone heading home to vote in the referendum safe travels, and we stand with you in this fight.