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Ireland voted for the legalization of abortions. How did the campaign go and why were abortions banned?

The cancellation of the ban, which existed in various forms since 1861, won .

Reuters photo
Reuters photo

The referendum was held on Friday, May 25, and the evening of the next day, the authorities announced 66.4% of those who voted in favor of lifting the ban. The voting was attended by a record number of citizens – more than two million people or 64.5% of all registered.

The Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar supported the decision to relax the legislation.

Campaign progress

Preparation for the referendum was accompanied by active public discussion. In addition to participating in TV debates, adherents of both sides organized street actions , and in social networks women and men published stories about the problems they had to face because of anti-abortion laws. To attract more participants to the referendum, social networks launched the #HomeToVote hashtag , which calls on fellow citizens abroad to return to their country on the voting day. On appeal responded to thousands of Irish.

Because of the increased number of agitating advertising messages during the campaign, Google had to ban all advertisements devoted to the referendum on its platforms, and Facebook blocked ads from other countries. Not without hacker attacks – May 9, were attacked sites campaign “Yes” and the organization Amnesty Ireland.

History of the ban

The prohibition of abortion in Ireland was first established by the Act against Crimes against the Person, passed by the British Parliament in 1861, and retained force in Ireland after 1922, when independence was proclaimed. Despite the fact that in Britain abortions were essentially legalized in 1967, in Ireland the law continued to regulate the topic of abortion until 1983. Following the referendum of 1983, the prohibition of abortion was enshrined in the Constitution by the adoption of the 8th Amendment, which established equal rights to the life of a woman and an unborn child.

The referendums on the topic of abortion were then held twice more – in 1992 and 2002 – both with the proposal to exclude possible suicide from the grounds for legal abortion, and both proposals were not passed.

The 1992 referendum, nevertheless, reinforced the important change – despite the legislative ban on abortion at home, women were given the right to receive information about abortion in other countries and to go abroad for their conduct. As a result, leaving the country for abortion became a way to bypass the ban – for example, in 2011, 4,149 Irish women had an abortion in the UK.

In 2013, following several decisions taken by the ECtHR v. Ireland and a campaign to liberalize abortion legislation launched in connection with the death of a woman after a miscarriage, a law was passed permitting abortion in the presence of a threat to the life of a woman.

Consequences of the referendum

As a result of the current referendum, Ireland will have to adopt a new amendment to the Constitution, replacing the text of the 8th Amendment and establishing the regulation of abortion by a separate law. The proposed text of the new law states that before the 12-week period, abortion will be permitted for any reason. After this period, the abortion will be resolved if the pregnancy is a threat to the life or health of the mother or if the condition of the fetus can lead to his death before birth.

Thus, Ireland is one of the last in Europe to abandon the ban on abortion. A complete ban on abortion will remain among European states only in Malta and the Vatican.

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