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Ireland Repeals Strict Abortion Ban in Historic Referendum

On Saturday, the Republic of Ireland voted to toss the prevailing abortion ban in a referendum that repealed Ireland’s Eighth Amendment. According to the official result, around 66 percent of voters voted for ending the abortion ban.

The result will bring a historic change in the most socially conservative country in Europe. Pro-life groups celebrated the vote as a victory for women fighting for their reproductive rights.

“It’s incredible. For all the years and years and years we’ve been trying to look after women and not been able to look after women, this means everything,” Mary Higgins, an obstetrician and Together For Yes campaigner stated.

Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who supported for the repeal of the regulation, stated that the poll’s outcome shows that Irish people let women make choices for their life.

“It’s also a day when we say no more. No more to doctors telling their patients there’s nothing can be done for them in their own country, no more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea, no more stigma as the veil of secrecy is lifted, and no more isolation as the burden of shame is gone,” the 39-year-old leader said.

Varadkar added that a quiet revolution had taken place since the surprising vote supporting gay marriage three years ago.

Abortion Around the World

Currently, Ireland allows abortion when a mother’s life is at risk, but not for incest, rape, or fetal abnormality.

Some Roman Catholic nations in Latin America have eased abortion laws in recent years. In 2016, Chile’s parliament decided to allow abortion for rape victims, when a woman’s life is at risk and when a fetus is unviable. Chile applied a total ban on abortion during the regime of Augusto Pinochet.

Irish’s pro-life groups argued that every year over 3,000 Irish women travel to England to end their pregnancy, others take risks by ordering illegal abortion pills online.

The World Health Organization (WHO) data shows that unsafe abortions contribute to between 4.7 percent and 13.2 percent of maternity deaths each year.

What triggers the victory of “Repeal” campaigner?

The death of Savita Halappanavar in University Hospital Galway in 2012 triggered the movement to repeal Ireland’s strict abortion ban. Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian woman was 17 weeks pregnant who died from complications of a miscarriage. She requested an abortion when it became apparent a miscarriage was inevitable, and she feared her life was at risk, but she was denied and told: “Ireland is a Catholic country.” Halappanavar eventually died from multiple organ failures and infection triggered by miscarriage.

Halappanavar’s husband, Praveen, said that if the doctors had allowed her to have an abortion, his wife would still be alive.

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Yasmeen Rasidi

Yasmeen is a writer and political science graduate of the National University, Jakarta. She covers a variety of topics for Citizen Truth including the Asia and Pacific region, international conflicts and press freedom issues. Yasmeen had worked for Xinhua Indonesia and GeoStrategist previously. She writes from Jakarta, Indonesia.

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