Irish Abortion Referendum: Article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution emphasizes the role of the State in acknowledging the unborn’s life with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother. Therefore, it guarantees in its laws the respect to defend and vindicate such right.
Abortion is the “most bitterly and repeatedly contested” issue in Modern Ireland. The Irish Abortion Referendum is the sixth referendum on the matter, and it is scheduled this month. During the Irish Abortion Referendum, the citizens of Ireland will be asked to vote for the repeal of the eighth amendment.
This clause of the Constitution gives equal value to the life of the unborn child and that of the mother by making abortion illegal. In 2013, abortions were made legal only in cases where the mother’s life is in danger. Those who undertake abortion methods may suffer 14 years of imprisonment.
In most European countries, abortion is legal until specific stages of pregnancy and is done only for the safety of the mother and to preserve physical and mental health. Except in Finland, Poland, and the UK, abortion is not available upon request but could only carry out when approved by two doctors.
Since passing the amendment in 1983, access to abortion has been an issue between friends and families. Some people think that it is “bound up with the painful aspects of Ireland’s past.”
The eighth amendment was passed as an “extra layer of protection” and stemmed from the fear it will soon get legalized in Ireland. In 1967, Britain provided access to abortion methods for specific conditions. Because of this, Irish women traveled to Britain to terminate unplanned pregnancies, causing scrutiny by conservative groups in Dublin.
Six years later, the US Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe v. Wade that abortion is legal under the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution. A year after, the Irish Supreme Court in McGee v. Attorney General said that individuals had a right to marital privacy, which covers importation of contraception. Because of its similarities to the ruling in Roe v. Wade, anti-abortion supporters also feared the potential legalization of the method.
Because of the Catholic influence in Ireland, abortion is something taboo in the area. Along with Malta, they have the strictest abortion laws among the members of the European Union. Voting to repeal the eighth amendment during the referendum will cause the liberalization of what Ireland thinks is contrary to their Catholic beliefs.
A draft bill is already ready and had been shared with the public prior to the referendum. If majority will vote “yes,” women can request abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy.