Ireland Repeals Anti-Abortion Amendment in Landmark Vote for Reproductive Justice

Ireland Repeals Anti-Abortion Amendment in Landmark Vote for Reproductive Justice

Ireland Repeals Anti-Abortion Amendment in Landmark Vote for Reproductive Justice

FILE PHOTO: People celebrate the result of yesterday's referendum on liberalizing abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland, May 26, 2018.

Ireland has voted to repeal its ban on abortion. While women are rejoicing this change, they are also quietly remembering Savita Halappanavar, who had died of sepsis at a hospital in Galway in October 2012.

Savita Halappanavar died from infection after miscarrying her first child in an Irish hospital in October 2012.

Savita's death was a catalyst for the movement to repeal the eighth amendment, paving the way for new legislation to allow for the termination of pregnancies in the predominantly Catholic country.

Once implemented, the referendum will allow abortions through the 12th week of pregnancy, or the end of the first trimester.

"The polls suggest all generations voted with us", Catherine Conlon, a Trinity College professor told ABC News, after exit polls showed overwhelming support for repeal of the amendment.

In the lead-up to the Irish Referendum, thousands of Irish people living overseas flew home so they could cast their ballot, sharing their stories using the hashtag #HomeToVote.

Years later, residents of Ireland have not forgotten her and her struggle. "We have hidden our conscience behind the constitution", said Varadkar. "The agony and sorrow are still persistent in our hearts after six years". "I have no words to express my gratitude to the people of Ireland at this historic moment", he said.

She said the church had in recent weeks taken a "quiet" stand against repeal, but hadn't been able to sway people.

Savita's case appears to have played a big part in influencing the outcome of the vote. Nearly 10 per cent of those who voted in favour said that her death influenced their decision, Kitty Holland, the author of Savita: The Tragedy That Shook A Nation, told the Times of India newspaper.


"These women in Northern Ireland, often very vulnerable, being forced to leave their homes and their loved ones and their country to get this kind of treatment, that really has gone on long enough", she told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

The campaign was defined by women publicly sharing their painful experiences of going overseas for procedures, a key reason why all but one of Ireland's 40 constituencies voted "Yes".

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a medical doctor who campaigned for ending the decades-old ban, hailed the result as a "quiet revolution".

At a large streetside mural of Savita in Dublin, people left letters, flowers and candles over the weekend.

"We're still seeing results coming in, but it seems that it's going to be a greater than two-to-one majority in favor of amending our constitution. and that says to me we're a nation that's not divided, we're actually a nation that is united", he added.

"If we had an assembly here, we would be literally at their doors begging, but we don't so we are really hoping that we can have help from Westminster and Theresa May to give us the access we need", she said.

The Together For Yes organisation said: "This is a vote for dignity and decency. I wasn't lucky enough to have a daughter", he wrote.

"Women would travel to England, alone and scared, and have abortions with no after care", O'Brien said in an email.

Saturday's result removes the equal right to life of the unborn and mother from the constitution.

Orla O'Connor, chair of the campaign, said: "The people have spoken".

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