Pro-Life Campaign Concedes Defeat To Yes Vote In Irish Abortion Referendum

Ireland abortion referendum and eighth amendment debateGetty

Results for the hotly contested vote regarding Ireland’s abortion laws have come in and it has been officially confirmed the country will repeal the 8th.

Just moments ago, at around 10:30am on Saturday 26 May, history was made when the Pro-life campaign, ‘Save the 8th’ conceded defeat to the ‘yes’ vote.

The campaign’s spokesman John McGuirk told national broadcaster RTE the people of Ireland had ‘weighed it in the balance and it came down on one side’.


He continued:

I obviously would have preferred if they had come down on the other. There is no prospect of the [abortion rights] legislation not being passed.

The exit polls called it. 69.4 per cent of voters agreed to repeal the 8th should be repealed compared to the remaining 30.6 per cent of voters.

The voters of Greystones brought the highest ‘yes’ vote with 82 percent voting in favour of a woman’s right to choose.

The eighth amendment of the constitution in the Republic of Ireland gives equal right to the life of a foetus and the mother.

It states it is illegal for a mother to get an abortion unless the pregnancy and birth puts the life or health of the mother in serious danger.

Learn about the debate in the video below:

The people of Ireland were given a chance to repeal this amendment and today’s votes show the majority of the country is in favour of changing the current abortion laws.

Voting for repeal in favour or against the eighth amendment ended at 10pm yesterday with the result officially announced this morning.

In the run-up to the eighth amendment referendum, the country was split down the middle of this hotly contested issue. Many experts admitted they could not predict which side would win.

Irish law deemed abortion illegal under the ‘Offences against the Person Act of 1861’. By 1983, pro-life activists feared the government would overturn this law so they lobbied for a referendum which would protect unborn lives.

Ireland abortion referendum and eighth amendment debateGetty

On September 1983 a referendum was held, proposing the eighth amendment to Ireland’s constitution.

The amendment stated:

The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.

Here’s how Ireland changed its mind:

The 1983 referendum passed with 66.9 per cent voting in favour of protecting the right to life of a foetus, with only five constituencies voting ‘No’. The vote effectively offered the same rights of a mother to an unborn child.

The road to reforming Ireland’s current abortion laws began in 2010 after the European Court of Human Rights deemed the Irish government was in clear violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. They pointed out the lack of information and transparency available to women regarding circumstances for a legal abortion.

Another catalyst for reform came after the death of Savita Halappanavar, whose story sent shockwaves across Ireland and the world after she lost her life in a Galway hospital as a result of complications from a septic miscarriage. It was later discovered her requests for an abortion were denied.

Ireland abortion referendum and eighth amendment debateGetty

Halappanavar’s death created a ripple effect and in 2013, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was put into place. It stated a legal abortion may be carried out under three high-risk scenarios: a potential of loss of life from physical illness, a risk of loss of life from physical illness in an emergency, or risk of loss of life from suicide.

The people of Ireland were given an opportunity to repeal the strict abortion laws and the result is a clear indication the majority of the country wants change and to move away from the Catholic dogma it is often associated with.

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