The referendum on the eighth amendment will take place in Ireland on Friday, May 25. Tell us how you are voting and why.
This Friday, May 25, 2018, will be the day when the people of Ireland vote on whether to make Ireland's abortion laws - which are currently some of the most restrictive in the world - more liberal.
Currently, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, ratified in 1983, gives mothers and unborn equal rights to life. On May 25, 2018, the Irish public will have the chance to vote to allow the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann) to put forth new abortion legislation.
While abortion is supposed to be allowed in Ireland if the life of the mother is at risk, it is illegal apart from this, even in the cases of rape, incest, or a fatal fetal abnormality. Despite this, it is estimated that as many as 12 Irish women a day travel abroad for an abortion or illegally purchase abortion pills.
Let us know how you will vote on Friday here. If you are undecided, the information below the poll outlines some of the main issues. Results wil be published on IrishCentral on Friday:
May 25 will mark the first time the Irish people will have voiced their opinions on the issue of abortion since 1983. There were unsuccessful referendums in 1992 and in 2002 which would have overturned this decision and removed the risk of suicide as a ground for an abortion, with regard to the famous "X Case", when a 13-year-old girl was denied abortion after she was raped.
What is the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution?
Abortion is illegal in Ireland and only allowed if it is shown that the life of the mother is at risk, including at the risk of suicide. The eighth amendment gives Ireland some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe, voted in at a time when even contraception was illegal. A woman convicted of having an illegal termination faces a 14-years imprisonment.
A 1983 referendum added the eighth amendment to the constitution setting the rights of the unborn child as having equal weight as that of the mother. It was only the high-profile case of Savita Halappanavar that led to the introduction of the "Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act," which allowed for a mother’s right to an abortion when her own life was at risk.
Halappanavar died of complications in 2012 after she was denied an abortion, despite knowing her unborn baby would not survive outside of the womb.
Yet despite this act, in 2017 a young Irish girl, reported to be as young as 14 years old, was admitted into a mental health unit for seeking an abortion even though it was decided that her life was at risk.
Are Irish women still having abortions?
Yes, the lack of access to safe abortions in Ireland is causing Irish women to travel abroad or look online for ways to terminate a pregnancy. An estimated average claims that 12 women a day travel to another country from Ireland for an abortion or illegally purchase an abortion pill online.
Just because abortion is illegal in Ireland is not to say that Irish citizens are not availing of them by other means, added an extra ferocity for the calls to repeal the eighth and provide a safe and legal alternative for Irish women and families within their own country's borders.
In fact, a Red C poll taken in 2016 showed that 68% of Irish people agreed that that Ireland’s abortion ban does not stop most women who want an abortion from having one while 65% agreed that the law as it currently stands makes women have unsafe abortions.
Will this mean that abortion will be completely legal in Ireland?
This vote is set to ask whether the amendment should be repealed from the Constitution.
While some pro-life groups in Ireland are claiming that the repeal movement hope for abortion to be used as a means of contraception or that the pro-choice movement even promotes the use of abortion based on the gender of the unborn, the argument to repeal the eighth is based on the idea that a woman should not be criminalized for seeking an abortion.
The UN Human Rights Committee have already decreed twice that the law as it stands goes against human rights and have urged the Irish government to extend the extent to which women in the country are provided with access to safe and legal abortions.
Addressing the case of Siobhán Whelan who was forced to travel to England for an abortion in 2010, despite a foetal abnormality that meant her baby had only a three percent chance of surviving outside of the womb, the committee declared that the Irish state had violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights’ prohibition against cruel, inhuman and discriminatory treatment. It also decided that Whelan had not been granted to proper rights to privacy and equality.
In a similar case in 2016, the UN ruled that Amanda Mellet should be compensated by the Irish state for being forced to travel to the UK for an abortion.
You can find more information on the referendum here.
Let us know the reasons behind your vote in the comments section, below. Results of the IrishCentral poll will be published on Friday, May 25.