Home News Ireland’s abortion referendum: what you need to know

Ireland’s abortion referendum: what you need to know

Ireland’s abortion referendum: what you need to know

On the 25th May, Ireland will go to the polls to vote on whether or not abortion should be legalised in the country.

The people of Ireland will have two options, either to repeal the 8th amendment or to allow the strict laws on abortion to remain in place.

Ireland currently have the most extreme and strict laws on abortion in Europe, even the Catholic country of Poland permit abortion on the grounds of rape or incest.

In Ireland, the Eighth Amendment allows equal rights to both the mother and the unborn child, meaning that abortions carry a hefty prison sentence for the woman and the party involved if they are carried out.

If a woman is found to have carried out an abortion in Ireland, she can face up to 14 years in prison for her actions.

According to the Guardian, if the amendment is repealed, the Irish government will have the ability and the opportunity to amend the bill as they see fit, legislating for the first time on the options for abortion and their availability to women.

Hundreds of women leave the country each year for an abortion, around ten women each day, whilst, according to the Guardian, many women buy abortion pills online in an unregulated environment, there is strong evidence that the abortion laws as they currently stand place women into considerable danger.

In 2012, Savita Halappanavar died of sepsis in hospital after her request for abortion was denied by the hospital staff as they felt that she was not in enough danger to permit an abortive procedure.

With the vague and often misinterpreted laws, doctors are so reluctant to allow women to undergo an abortion that they usually wait until the woman is in real danger before acting.

The parents of Savita are currently encouraging people to vote yes on repeal the eighth in memory of their daughter; and with the percentage for the yes vote currently standing higher than the no vote, it does appear that new legislation may be possible, yet the numbers are incredibly close.

It’s not just the act of abortion in Ireland that is prevented, there is heavy censorship which controls what is produced in doctor’s rooms, hospitals and the media in general, making sure that nothing is seen to be promoting abortion.

If the idea of not being in control of your own body is not frustrating enough, women have to carry a foetus which is either at high risk of not surviving inside of them until full term, a horrific experience for both the parents.

Whilst women are permitted to travel the UK for an abortion, the procedure can cost up to 400 euros, whilst with travel and accommodation, getting abortion for Irish women can tip over into the 1000 euro mark, a sum which many find unaffordable.

If the referendum results in the legalisation of abortion, Ireland has promised that they will deliver a highly regulated abortion system, allowing women to have an abortion up to 12 weeks into her pregnancy. In order for this to be carried out, the woman will have a three day waiting period and have a consultation with a doctor to ensure a safe and private procedure.

The two key groups for either side of the referendum are the ‘together for Yes’ campaign whose Twitter page has racked in over 15,000 followers, whilst the main group campaigning against are the ‘Love Both’ campaign, spearheaded by the influence of the church.

With the vote set to happen this coming Friday, campaigns are reaching their limit across Ireland to encourage as many people as possible to ensure that their vote is heard.

Elizabeth Whittingham Elizabeth is a history graduate currently working in content and communications.