Referendum in Ireland would repeal strict ban on abortion

Voters throughout Ireland have begun casting votes in a referendum that may lead to a loosening of the country’s strict ban on most abortions.

A woman carries a baby in a cot as goes to cast her vote at a polling station in the referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, in Dublin, Friday, May 25, 2018. (Niall Carson/PA via AP)

Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether to end the country’s strict abortion ban. It was a battle for the very soul of a traditionally conservative Roman Catholic country that has seen a wave of liberalization in recent years.

The country’s leaders support a “yes,” an outcome that would repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment requiring authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law. They say it’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity to liberalize abortion rules.

It’s also a key indicator of Ireland’s trajectory, three years after the country voted to allow same-sex marriages and a year after it elected a gay prime minister.

Theresa Sweeney, a repeal supporter, was one of the first people to arrive at the North Grand Church polling station in Dublin.

“I’m not usually an early riser, but I couldn’t wait to get down here to vote,” she said. “I feel like I’ve waited all of my adult life to have a say on this.”

Vera Rooney cast her ballot at the same polling place.

“It is a hard decision but I just feel I don’t have the right to take life,” she said. “I think life is sacred and for that reason I had to vote no.”

The referendum will decide whether the eighth amendment of the constitution is repealed or stays in place.

Related: ‘Reprehensible’: Trudeau abortion policy raises ire of U.S. right

The amendment requires authorities to equally protect the right to life of a mother and that of a fetus, from the moment of conception. Abortion in largely Catholic Ireland is illegal except in cases when the woman’s life is in danger, and several thousand Irish women travel each year to get abortions in neighbouring Britain.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a doctor, voted in favour of repeal Friday morning at Laurel Lodge in Castleknock.

“Not taking anything for granted of course, but quietly confident,” he said, adding. “A high turnout I think would be to the advantage to the ‘yes’ campaign, and obviously the upside of a good sunny day in Ireland is that people come out to vote.”

Results are not expected until Saturday afternoon or evening. Voting has already taken place on islands so that paper ballots can be taken to the mainland and counted in time.

Letters to the editor published Friday in the Irish Independent newspaper contained emotional arguments urging voters to reject the repeal movement.

“If we vote ‘yes’, every unborn, wanted and unwanted, will have zero rights,” wrote Frances Kelleher, from Killarney. “I do not believe the smart people of Ireland want this unrestricted, abortion-on-demand bill. I will be voting no.”

If citizens vote in favour of repeal, new abortion laws will then be discussed in parliament. The government proposes that terminations be allowed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Later abortions would be allowed in special cases.

Related: Alberta set to introduce bill for no-go zones around abortion clinics

Related: Feds clarify LGBTQ and abortions rights attestation for summer jobs funding

Gregory Katz And Renata Brito, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Illegal dumping pushes BC Conservation to the tipping point

Terrace office may bring violators to court to seek higher penalties

Eden Robinson talks Trickster Drift in Terrace

More than 160 people packed into the Art Gallery to see the award-winning author

UNBC ranks second on Maclean’s Magazine’s list

The Prince George university has regional campuses in Quesnel and Terrace

Telegraph Creek evacuees, families gather for Thanksgiving in Terrace

It’s been over two months since the residents of Telegraph Creek were… Continue reading

Secret supper clubs test appetite for cannabis-infused food ahead of legalization

Chefs are eagerly awaiting pot edibles to become legal in Canada

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Sears files for bankruptcy amid plunging sales, massive debt

The company started as a mail order catalogue in the 1880s

BREAKING: Prince Harry and Meghan expecting their 1st child in spring

The announcement of the pregnancy confirms weeks of speculation from royal watchers

Enbridge to begin building road to access pipeline explosion site in B.C.

An explosion Tuesday knocked out a 91-centimetre line

Nearly all available houses sold in Kitimat

Overflow buyers are now looking to Terrace for property after LNG announcement

Andrew Scheer on revamped NAFTA deal: ‘I would have signed a better one’

Conservative leader says he wouldn’t have signed USMCA

Matheson will have NHL hearing after Canucks rookie Pettersson hit

The 19-year-old Swedish centre appeared woozy after the hit

GUEST COLUMN: A better way to manage B.C.’s public construction

Claire Trevena responds to Andrew Wilkinson on NDP union policy

Most Read