After Ireland says Yes to abortion, what next for Northern Ireland?

28 May, 2018, 17:17 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Messages are left at a memorial to Savita Halappanava a day after an Abortion Referendum to liberalise abortion laws was passed by popular vote in Dublin Ireland

An initiative to repeal Ireland's abortion law was overwhelmingly successful, results released Saturday indicate.

Twice as many voters opted to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which bans abortion in all but exceptional circumstances.

The results of the vote led to an outpouring of emotion from the crowd of protestors, with many chanting the "Savita, Savita", in reference to dentist Savita Halappanavar, 31, whose tragic death in 2012 sparked worldwide outrage. Several voters supported the change by two-to-one, a margin considered far higher than any opinion poll in the run up to the vote had predicted, in the once deeply Catholic nation.

Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, a campaigner for the yes vote, has said that he hopes to pass the proposed legislation within six months.

"This has been a great exercise in democracy and the people have spoken and the people have said: We want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the rights choices about their own health care", Varadkar said on Saturday. He now expects new abortion legislation to come into effect by the end of the year. The referendum states that abortions should only be performed when the mother's life is in immediate danger, as fetuses have an "equal" right to life.

Fiona O'Brien, who moved to the Toronto area five years ago, said she followed some of the vote over Skype with her mother in Dublin and is "over the moon" with the result.

More than 170,000 women traveled from Ireland to access abortion services another country between 1980 and 2016, according to the Irish Family Planning Association.

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Ruth Foster, a Belfast-born student in her final year at the University of Edinburgh, thinks many people in the rest of the United Kingdom are unaware of the legal position in Northern Ireland.

Once passed, women in Ireland will be able to obtain first-trimester abortions in Irish hospitals. The hot-button issue also motivated a number of Irish ex-patriots to fly home from around the globe to cast their ballots, with many posting their positions on social media beside the hashtag #HomeToVote.

Yesterday, Ireland officially voted to repeal the eighth amendment of the constitution. "It's more of a relief", said Lynda Cosgrave, a 35-year-old legal associate, wearing the black sweatshirt with "Repeal" in white that become the symbol of the youthful "Yes" campaign.

Official counting for Friday's referendum on whether or not to liberalize Ireland's abortion laws was still under way, and final results are not expected until Saturday afternoon. "I don't think you'll find many people on our side of the referendum who don't accept the result".

He said Savita's death had devastated the family.

"Poll after poll has shown in the north, much like it did in the south, that between 62-72% people in every one of the polls is in favour of a change to the law", she said. We have one last request, that the new law, that it is called "Savita's law".

The anti-abortion DUP, whose 12 MPs the prime minister relies on to prop up her minority government, are against Westminster taking a decision on liberalising abortion while Stormont is suspended.

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