Women’s rights are Human rights, and this constitutional reformation in Ireland has never made that clearer. #comhghairdeas !!!!! It’s 9.45 am here in California and I’m off to find a pint. ?#RepealedTheEighth
— Minnie Driver (@driverminnie) May 26, 2018
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.
Savita Halappanavar did not die in vain. Irish women today have fought for, and secured a hard-won right. But the fight is not over. We must make sure the women of Northern Ireland are not left behind. Tweet your MP asking them to #TrustAllWomen now! #RepealedTheEighth pic.twitter.com/g0Cw1Mc8Uz
— Fawcett Society (@fawcettsociety) May 26, 2018
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:
Thank you to every woman who shared their story. Thank you to everyone who came home to vote. Thank you to everyone who wore a badge. Thank you to everyone who had that difficult conversation. Thank you to everyone who refused to be silenced. Thank you all #RepealedTheEighth
— Niamh Corry (@niamhcorry19) May 26, 2018
Today is a day of mixed emotions. Elation, relief, frustration that it took so long & such a fight, sadness for the women for whom it’s too late, gratitude for those who led the way & shared their own stories. And above all, pride in what this country can be. #RepealedTheEighth
— Jennifer Davidson | VOTE YES (@DavidsonJenn) May 26, 2018
Wore my REPEAL jumper out to get my coffee just now and an older woman stopped me right in the street and said “We finally did it.” My heart burst. What a mighty day ❤#RepealedTheEighth
— Aimée Millar (@AimeeMillar2303) May 26, 2018
If there is a quote of the year, this is it..
“Women have been told take the plane, take the boat. Today we say take our hand.”
– Simon Harris. May 26, 2018#RepealedTheEighth
— Anne Sheridan (@annesheridan1) May 26, 2018
And I’ll leave you with this heartening gif:
— ?✨jAy 4YES✨? (@jayrotoole) May 26, 2018