The Republic of Ireland in Friday overwhelmingly voted to repeal the abortion ban in the country by 66.4% to 33.6%. Until than, abortion is only allowed when a woman’s life is at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.
The country’s Constitution Eighth Amendment adopted in 1983 laid down a norm recognising the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and the unborn.
It was approved by referendum on 7 September 1983 and signed into law on 7 October 1983., which grants an equal right to life to the mother and unborn, will be replaced.
A vote in favour of repeal paves the way for the Dáil (Irish Parliament) to legislate for change which would see the introduction of a much more liberal regime.
Three years ago, the country voted in a referendum to legalise same-sex marriage. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a prominent liberalisation advocate, told crowds at Dublin Castle it was “a historic day for Ireland.”
He said the Irish public demonstrated “trust and respect to women to make their own decision and choices.”
“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,” he said
After the ballot, public attention is turning to the Norther Ireland, where abortion, unlike in the rest of Great Britain, is largely illegal.
This leaves Northern Ireland the only region on the island of Ireland and the UK where pregnancy terminations in most cases are banned.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has been under the pressure to bring abortion laws in Northern Ireland in line with the rest of the UK.
May has responded to those calls by saying that the issue is for the North to decide.
Shortly before the referendum, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has told The Irish Times that in case of the victory of the proponents of liberalisation she could imagine a scenario ” where we legislate to have the service available, I would imagine that women [from N. Ireland] would access services across the border.”