Why this story matters:
With over 65% of voters in favor of liberalizing abortion law, the victory feels like a watershed moment in Irish history, one that marks a significant shift in mindset. Young people especially came out in favor of new legislation -- 87% of voters aged 18-24 wanted a repeal of the 8th amendment.
Abortion was first prohibited in Ireland via the Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 and demanded penal servitiude for those found guilty of giving, seeking, or receiving abortions.
In 1983, the Eighth Amendment was passed by referendum (66.9% for), essentially prohibting abortion in almost all cases. This is the amendment that the current referendum repealed.
Minister for Health Simon Harris said:
“The Eighth Amendment abandoned women in crisis. Women have been told take the plane, take the boat. Today we say take our hand. Women have been told you are on your own. Today we say we stand with you.”
Sights of crowds singing and celebrating in Dublin Castle will no doubt give hope to women in Europe's last strongholds of illiberal abortion law -- Poland and Malta.
Details from the story:
- Polls opened on Friday morning at 7am and closed at 10pm.
- Exit polls announce 65.65% in favor of repealing with a turnout of 64.43%.
- The legislation that will now need to be implemented is delineated in the policy paper published by the Department of Health “Regulation of the Termination of Pregnancy”.
- It recommends abortion be made available for the following circumstances: there is a risk to the health of a woman, there is a medical emergency, there is a fetal condition which is likely to lead to death before or shortly after birth, up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without specific indication, with a time period after an initial assessment by a medical practitioner and the termination procedure.