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Abortion referendum decision 'tragedy of historic proportions'

27 May 2018

A total of 66.4 percent of voters voted to scrap the present anti-abortion laws in Ireland in a Friday referendum, according to the final results announced by a returning officer here on Saturday evening. Now under Irish law a woman who develops a health condition throughout her pregnancy, be it life threatening or otherwise, will be denied any medication and healthcare that her doctor feels poses any threat to the pregnancy, for fear of the legal repercussions.

Yes vote supporters at a Diaspora Downunder Dollars for Choice event in Melbourne. But by doing so, they are breaking the law. "I used to think: This can not go on". As target after target was surpassed, there was an outpouring of emotion; online, amongst friends and at the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign's committee meeting.

The only way we can truly provide care and compassion for the women of Ireland is if we remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution.

"I'm really anxious about the result", she adds.

"What we have done is begin to dismantle the shame and stigma that was around this issue for so many years".

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called the result the culmination of a “quiet revolution.”
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called the result the culmination of a “quiet revolution.”

They didn't, and her death was due to medical negligence, not lack of abortion, official investigations revealed.

Many health experts and doctors have joined the Yes campaign, but opinions are divided in the profession.

"It's the idea that, in society, you need to look after your weakest members, and the most vulnerable and weakest are in a certain sense pre-born children", said Harrington, who works for a small chain of supermarkets.

"Termination up to 12 weeks is proposed". There's no justification for that. Seeking to avoid similar legislation in Ireland, campaigners pressed for a constitutional amendment to firm up the country's legal provisions against abortion.

The Republic of Ireland is holding a referendum on May 25 that could dramatically change its stance on abortion.

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A Sky News survey taken only a few days ago showed that 47% were in favour of reform, while 37% were against it.

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When contraception was legalised in Ireland in 1974, there was a widespread belief that liberal abortion laws would inevitably follow. The first constituency to declare - traditionally conservative Galway East - returned a 60 percent vote to repeal the abortion ban. That has resulted in many women every day going overseas for terminations. In 1983, amid fears from pro-life activists that Ireland would follow abortion reforms in the U.S. and Europe, a referendum was held and passed by a 66 percent majority.

However, her Sinn Fein party colleague and vocal anti-abortion campaigner Peadar Toibin called on Irish people to vote No to "abortion on demand".

"Abortion will be illegal in all circumstances beyond early pregnancy in this country, except where there is a serious risk to the health or life of the woman". Cases after 12 weeks would have to be approved by two doctors.

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Meanwhile, a campaign on social media with a hashtag #hometovote has been mobilised by "yes" supporters, who want to get as many Irish voters as possible casting their vote.

Referring to his nine-year-old son, Aaron, Kaposy said: "As the father of a child with Down's syndrome, I am opposed to the propagandistic use of people like my son in attempts to limit reproductive rights, as has happened in the Irish debate, as well as in the legislative actions taken in various American states to outlaw the abortion of foetuses with Down's syndrome".

But the debate hasn't necessarily been generational. Between 1980 and 2016, more than 170,000 women did so.

"This is a referendum on the right to life. We don't believe in taking a life", said Michael Eustace, 55. It is a vote about recognising that abortion is a reality for Irish women here and overseas, the Minister said.

"I'd be quite happy to talk about that issue after Friday; but, at this stage, my motivation is to make sure that we reach a situation where the legislature is asked to deal with the issue around legislation".

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Opponents of the repeal movement conceded defeat on Saturday morning after exit polls from the night before suggested more than two-thirds of voters had backed repeal.

Abortion referendum decision 'tragedy of historic proportions'