Thursday 17 October 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

We are now well on the road to being a true Republic of equals

The ballot box arrives on Gola Island, Co Donegal. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
The ballot box arrives on Gola Island, Co Donegal. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Shona Murray

Today is a day for celebration.

Exit polls suggest that Irish men and women have voted overwhelmingly to end a law that for 35 years inhibited women's choice and endangered their lives. The vast majority of women living on this island will feel empowered and incredibly grateful for the Ireland they wake up in today.

As the Taoiseach said last week; Ireland will still be the same place if we vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment; it will just be more compassionate.

Indeed the rural and urban divide was evident, but only just.

Because as the figures revealing the number of women in each county who gave Irish addresses in British abortion clinics show, abortion is a matter that has touched so many of us.

Experience has taught us that while abortion is a part of life nobody wishes to consider, often it is the right solution in some circumstances.

It shouldn't have taken the death of Savita Halappanavar, or the rape of a 14-year old, or international courts for us to realise the cruel and unusual nature of this constitutional provision.

By agreeing to remove the Eighth Amendment, we have not sold out on our principles, or become a place which is suddenly uncaring about babies or the unborn. We have decided that as a mature republic in the 21st century; we will shape our own normative values and laws.

But this time the dignity of women will be central to those decisions. We will no longer rely on a different country, and a different parliament to decide when abortion can take place.

There will now be a balance of the rights of the unborn, with strict time-limits on abortion implemented, and where late-term abortions will be explicitly outlawed.

Finally, a pregnant woman will have a voice.

Because although the Eighth Amendment equalled the right to life of a women with that on an unborn, this did not bear out. Women have been poorly treated in this country for generations.

Over 35 years ago, Ireland voted to equal the life of a grown woman to that of the foetus she was carrying, regardless of gestation.

For decades, this expression within the Constitution had far graver consequences than merely prohibiting abortion on the island. And in repealing that law, Ireland is well on its way to being a true republic of equals.

Irish Independent

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