Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Ireland abortion referendum: What you need to know

Ireland abortion referendum: What you need to know

After weeks of anticipation, acrimony and more than a little heated discussion, Irish voters are finally casting ballots Friday to decide a simple yet deeply divisive question: Should the country repeal a constitutional amendment that bans abortion in almost all circumstances?

The referendum follows a ruling by the Irish Supreme Court this year that said unborn have no constitutional rights.

When voted on, the referendum passed with 66.9 percent voting "yes", and 33.1 percent voting "no".

"What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions", Save The 8th said.

Ms Butler said she is "reserving her position" on unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy but has come around to allowing terminations in case of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities.

If the exit poll is confirmed, Malta will be the only European Union country to have a complete ban on abortion.


Ireland legalized divorce by a razor-thin majority only in 1995, but became the first country to adopt gay marriage by popular vote in a 2015 referendum.

On May 25 2018, Ireland has the opportunity to repeal the country's abortion law and the Eighth Amendment, to allow the government to legislate terminations. However, the new law did not satisfy all people, and people argued that it would still not make getting an abortion in Ireland any easier.

With polling data suggesting seven out of 10 voters backed reform, campaigners in favour suggested it meant a moment of profound change - when the nation had collectively stood up for women and their healthcare.

"I personally don't know if I will return to Ireland if this vote doesn't go through", she said.

In addition to this, the case of Savita Halappanavar also sparked debate around Ireland and the world watched as the Galway dentist died following complications from a septic miscarriage, after she was denied an abortion.

Most European countries allow abortion on request up to 12 weeks.


An electorate of more than 3.2 million were asked to cast their ballots, including thousands of Irish people living overseas who had made the journey home to vote.

#RepealThe8th, promoted by those who are pro-choice (against abortion ban), has been used nearly 90,000 times on Instagram, and even more times on Twitter and Facebook. That effectively bans all abortions in Ireland, except in cases when the woman's life is at risk.

In Dublin, 79% of people voted for repeal, according to the RTÉ poll.

It says that "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".

Seeking or providing an abortion in Ireland was a criminal offense that carries up to 14 years behind bars.

"What I see now in the final days of this campaign is a tactic by the "No" campaign to try and make out that there is some sort of alternative amendment that we could put into our constitution", Varadkar, who is campaigning for a "Yes" vote, told parliament.


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