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The referendum will decide whether the eighth amendment of the constitution is repealed or stays in place.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

Three people from recovering from shellfish poisoning

Butter clams harvested in November 2018 could cause paralytic shellfish poisoning

Port Clements gets cell service

Telus built a $500,000 wireless communication site for the remote Haida Gwaii village

Identifying child care space needs on the island

B.C. government is providing a $25,000 grant for more than 70 communities to help improve daycare

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Sk’aadgaa Naay slips in Fraser Institute elementary school rankings

The school stayed at a rating of 5, but slipped to 694th rank in 2017/18

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

COLUMN: Smart phone too powerful a tool to yank from students’ hands

Rather than ban them from schools, let’s teach kids to harness their phone’s power and use it properly

Most Read