2.5 Editor's Pick
May 26, 2018

Minnie Driver says it All in this Tweet about the Irish Abortion Referendum.

 

Yesterday, the Republic of Ireland held a popular vote on the Eighth Amendment to the Irish constitution.

The “8th” as many refer to it, is an amendment to the Irish constitution that passed in 1983 and effectively outlaws abortion on the island. Thousands of Irish women (and families) have been forced to travel to the United Kingdom every year for private and essential reproductive health care.

Because of the Eighth Amendment, Ireland did not allow for abortions in the cases of rape, incest, or fatal fetal abnormalities, and only nominally allowed for abortions (read: not consistently or practically) in the case of the health of the mother. See the tragic, irresponsible, and unnecessary death of Savita Halappanavar as an example of the iron grip the Eighth Amendment held on a doctor’s ability to grant life-saving health care.

 

After 35 years, Irish voters have voted two-to-one to repeal the Eighth Amendment. 

Over the past few weeks while visiting family in Northern Ireland, I’ve been impressed by the civil discourse taking place around the island. So very much unlike what we see currently in the United States whenever abortion is mentioned.

The right to choice can be a divisive issue amongst family, friends, work colleagues, and the general community. What I’ve seen play out in debates and over news coverage here has been civil, neutral, and passionate.

Although these rights do not currently extend to Northern Ireland—the North of Ireland for Irish Nationalists—it’s heartening to see compassion win by such a large margin, especially in the largely Catholic conservative country.

This isn’t the first time Ireland held a popular vote on a contentious social issue with a progressive outcome. In 2015, Ireland became the first country to approve same-sex marriage by a popular vote.

Many have said that this campaign was won through the bravery of individual personal stories. Women from around the country shared often heartbreaking accounts of the indignity of having to travel to the United Kingdom after conceiving from rape or when diagnosed with fatal fetal abnormalities.

Here is a bit of the relief and pride being shared by the “yes” campaigners:

 

 

And I’ll leave you with this heartening gif:

 

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Author/Editor: Kenni Linden
Image: lizzie_dennis89/InstagramMinnie Driver/Twitter, & leannewoodfull/Instagram
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Kenni Linden

Kenni Linden is a perennial nomad with itchy soles. A graduate of Naropa University’s Interdisciplinary Studies program, Kenni lives with her Irish husband and two littles in Palmer, Alaska. She’s a fierce activist with an insatiable desire to understand human experience and cherishes the perfect cup of tea beneath her sprawling bird cherry tree. She’s a mover and community organizer, and can frequently be found asking tough questions and not tolerating any lies. Find Kenni on her website, Instagram, and Facebook.