On the 25th of May 2018, a referendum was held in Ireland concerning the legal authorisation of abortion in the country. Irish citizens voted on the issue of maintaining or repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, that is to say to allow or not the Irish Parliament (Oireachtas) to enact laws regarding the termination of pregnancy.
The Eighth Amendment was introduced into the Irish Constitution following the 1983 referendum. It prohibits abortion in almost all cases as both the mother and the unborn child have a right to live. It officially made abortion illegal.
The Yes won over the No regarding the legalisation of abortion with 66.40% vs 33.60% of the votes. Nearly in every parliamentary constituencies, the Repeal of the amendment vote was predominant, except for the Donegal constituency. Thus, the Thirty-Sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018, which is the legal name of the amendment to the constitution, will abrogate the article 40.3.3° of the Irish Constitution that prohibited abortion. Health Minister Simon Harris said that Irish people could expect the abortion legislation to pass by the autumn.
Most political parties endorsed a Yes campaign, such as the Labour Party, the Green Party or Sinn Féin. However, it was mostly the issue regarding Savita Halappanavar’s death after being denied an abortion during a miscarriage that affected people and stirred the controversy surrounding the strictness over possibilities to abort. We should note that the turnout was high with 64.13% of the registered voters that came to the polling stations. During the campaign, the focus was not only on the easing of the restrictive regime that already existed (e.g. the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act (2013)) but to permit women to have the choice over abortion or not (up to twelve weeks of pregnancy). The international press welcomed the outcome of the referendum, even claiming that “liberty won in Ireland” (El País). On the other hand, anti-repeal partisans highlighted that every unborn child has a right to live and that abortion simply means killing a defenseless child who is not granted any choice over his own life.
In Europe, abortion is utterly illegal in Malta. It is legal in Northern Ireland and Poland when the life of the mother is in danger, when she faces health issues, in case of rape or if the foetus is defective. In the United Kingdom, Iceland and Finland, abortion is allowed just like in the case of Northern Ireland and Poland with the addition of socioeconomic factors.
FOR MORE UPDATES
„An Bille um an Séú Leasú is Tríocha ar an mBunreacht, 2018
Thirty-sixth Amendment of the Constitution Bill 2018” (no. 29 of 2018, PDF) : https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/bills/bill/2018/29/