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Ireland votes in 'once-in-a-generation' abortion referendum

Category: Gender in the world 
2018-05-25

Ireland began voting on Friday in an abortion referendum that could be a milestone on a path of change in a country that, only two decades ago, was one of Europe’s most socially conservative.

 


Polls suggest Irish voters are set to overturn one of the world’s strictest bans on terminations. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in favor of change, has called the referendum a “once-in-a-generation” chance.

 

Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation will be asked if they wish to scrap a prohibition that was enshrined in the constitution by referendum 35 year ago, and partly lifted in 2013 only for cases where the mother’s life is in danger.

 

Ireland has been changing fast. It legalized divorce by a razor-thin majority only in 1995, but three years ago became the first country in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote.

 

A decades-old battle over abortion has played out in a fiercely contested debate that divided political parties, saw the once mighty church take a back seat and became a test case for how global internet giants deal with social media advertising in political campaigns.

 


Unlike in 1983, when religion was front and center and abortion was a taboo subject for most people, the campaign was instead defined by women on both sides publicly describing their personal experiences of terminations.

 

“I think it’s the right thing for the women of Ireland – care, compassion, dignity and safety. Equal healthcare is why I’m voting ‘Yes’,” said Joanna Faughan, 33, voting in the north Dublin suburb of Castleknock where queues formed before polls opened at 0600 GMT.

 

“Yes” campaigners have argued that with over 3,000 women traveling to Britain each year for terminations - a right enshrined in a 1992 referendum - and others ordering pills illegally online, abortion is already a reality in Ireland.

 

 

Source 

Tags: Ireland abortion referendum

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