The Republic of Ireland vote 'Yes' to abortion rights

Other | Friday 1st June 2018 | Angel

On Friday 25th May the Republic of Ireland held a referendum as to whether they wanted the constitutional terms of abortion in the eighth amendment to be revised.

Since 2013, abortions have been allowed but only when the life of the mother was at risk under the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act. This has led to many women travelling to the UK to get an abortion, as the maximum penalty for an illegal abortion in the Republic of Ireland was 14 years in prison.

The stats say it all, in 2016 there were a reported 25 legal abortions carried out in the Republic of Ireland, as opposed to the 3,265 women travelling to the UK from Ireland in order to get an abortion. It seems absolutely absurd that this ratio has been ignored for so long, but that has all finally changed.

The government of Ireland has been lobbied by the Citizens’ Assembly for the past year to have this part of the constitution amended, leading to the referendum on the 25th May 2018. The ballot read: “Provisions may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies”

The landslide 66%  vote for ‘Yes’ shows the staggering development in Ireland’s outlooks since the conflicts in the late 1900s. However, it is evident that the over-65 age bracket of voters where largely in favour of maintaining the eighth amendment.

But how does this result affect the UK? Well, Theresa May’s reliance on DUP seats for the formation of her government now proves to be fragile. The general anti-abortion stance of the DUP expects their votes to decline in the next election, thus jeopardising May’s ability to hold onto power.

Northern Ireland, who have different abortion laws to the rest of the UK and similar to that of the eighth amendment, will hopefully have their eyes opened by this referendum result.

But who cares about Theresa May and the DUP, when this result marks a historic day for women’s rights in Ireland.