What You NTK About The Irish Abortion Referendum
Come Friday you'll be totes clued up.
On Friday 25th an important referendum is happening. Yep, the power is being handed to the people once again and (just like before #Brexit) tensions are high. This referendum is happening in the Republic of Ireland, and it's about whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment in their constitution which makes all abortions illegal, except for in the most extreme circumstances. It could make history and change Irish gender politics forever.
Make sure to check out what trans people are tired of hearing...
There’s loads of info flying around about the abortion situ in Ireland, but we reckon it’s handy to have all of it in one place. So what’s the deal with abortion in Ireland, why is the referendum happening and what happens if its outcome changes the law? Here goes nothing...
What does the law say now?
In England, Scotland and Wales, abortion has been legal ever since way back in 1967. Even though Northern Ireland is in the UK too though, it’s actually the only place the Abortion Act didn’t apply. Abortions are only allowed in Northern Ireland when there is a risk to the woman’s life.
In the Republic of Ireland, similarly, abortion is illegal except where there’s a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother. That means it’s illegal to abort a baby even when that baby is conceived through rape, and health (physical and mental) risks for the mum aren’t taken into account unless they are life-threatening. All this may change with the result of Friday’s referendum.
The Eighth Amendment is what voters will be voting for and against on Friday. It states that the value of an unborn foetus’s life is equal to the value of its mother, so that foetus's right to life must be protected even against its mother's will.
Why do some people want to repeal it?
Say you’re an Irish girl/ woman who has been raped and who has become pregnant with your rapist’s baby. If you decide you can’t face having the baby and want an abortion, you’ll have to travel elsewhere (many come to the UK), where you can safely and legally have an abortion. This depends on you having the money to buy plane or ferry tickets and accommodation, and on having time that you can book out of your schedule to go.
If you don’t have these things and opt for an illegal abortion in Ireland, you could face up to 14 years in jail. As well as worrying about criminal punishment, there’s also a lot of shame attached to abortions in Ireland and those who’ve decided to have one can’t necessarily process their emotions with the support of loved ones around them.
According to the UK Department of Health, in 2016 3,265 women and girls gave Irish addresses at UK abortion clinics. Yet more Irish women may have had abortions in the UK without putting down their Irish address. Irish women are getting abortions regardless of the law mostly through travelling elsewhere but if the referendum results in legalising abortion, women in Ireland will be supported and given full control over their bodies at home.
Ireland has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Not only do women receive long sentences as punishment, but anyone found to be helping a woman to get an abortion can be punished by law too.
What will happen if the law changes?
If the majority of people in Ireland vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, women will have unrestricted abortion rights up until their 12th week of pregnancy. Between their 12th and 24th week, abortion will only be legal if there’s a risk to the woman’s life, a risk of serious harm to their physical or mental health, or a fatal foetal abnormality.
What’s the latest?
The result of the referendum is by no way clear at the moment and could go either way. In fact, some Irish people living abroad have been flying back home in order to vote because the result is so important to them.
As you'd expect, the whole thing has caused a Twitter frenzy, with everyone tweeting to add their voice to the debate...
Irish celebs have also been speaking up and using their publicity to promote a cause. Saoirse Ronan, Cilian Murphy and Hozier have all been open about supporting the repeal vote.
This is a HUGE moment for Ireland, and a repeal of this law will change the lives of women living there drastically. Whatever the result, democracy will decide...
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