What Is Repeal The 8th & Why Is It Important To Ireland?

Today is a historic day in Ireland, the country is voting on if it should repeal the Eighth Amendment which would legalize abortions. Since 1861 abortion was a criminal penalty in the country. In 1983 the Eighth Amendment was made law, therefore ruling abortions as illegal unless the pregnancy proved to be a life risk for the mother. But today all of that could change. Even if you’re against abortions, the vote will be historical just based on the sheer number of people that are predicted to head to the polls.

This vote is also historic because Ireland is a conservative country. Contraceptives weren’t legal to sell until 1985 and divorce wasn’t made legal until 1995. If the country repealed the Eighth Amendment, it points to a more progressive future for a once ultra-conservative state.

What happens if the Eighth Amendment is repealed?

For the amendment to get repealed the majority vote has to be yes. Ireland will most likely make abortions legal for up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy. After 12 weeks abortions will only be legal if there are serious health risks for the mother to finish carrying out the pregnancy.

Glamour reports that women are even traveling near and far to return to their home country to vote. The vote is so crucial that celebrities are tweeting out their support for the repeal. Niall Horan from One Direction showed his support to repeal the Eighth along with Emma Watson.

It’s a numbers game.

Even though abortions in Ireland have practically always been illegal, it hasn’t stopped its citizens from getting abortions. CBS News reports that in 2016 over 3,000 women traveled to other parts of the U.K. to receive an abortion. That’s roughly nine abortions a day. About 1,500 illegal abortions pills are ordered online each year.

BBC reports that 3.2 million people are registered to vote in Ireland, and more than 100,000 new voters registered ahead of the referendum. There are 6,500 voting stations throughout the country.

How likely will abortion become illegal?

Ireland conservative history is daunting, but recently the country has been leaning more progressive. In 2015 the country legalized gay marriage, the same year America legalized gay marriage. Ireland is one of 26 countries that has legalized it.

Leo Varadkar Ireland’s current Prime Minister is openly gay and is the son of Indian immigrants. He is the youngest person and the first of a minority to become Prime Minister. He is also the first openly gay leader in Ireland.

Today Varadkar voted to repeal the Eighth. He reminded his constituents that the divorce referendum passed in 1995 with less than 10,000 votes, so every vote counts right now.

But once again, Ireland has always been dubbed as a conservative country. Today that will change, or remain the same.

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