Ireland says “yes” to abortion

With an overwhelming majority, Ireland decides to liberalize abortion

Ireland says “yes” to abortion
A woman carries a placard as Ireland holds a referendum on liberalising abortion laws, in Dublin - Photo: Max Rossi/REUTERS
English 26/05/2018 12:44 Newsroom Mexico City Actualizada 12:57

Dublin.- Ireland has accepted to change the constitution, which was one of the most strict and controversial in Europe, to a more liberal agenda. At the referendum that took place yesterday, there was a high turnout in favor of legalizing abortion, according to surveys.

Although the official count has barely started today, two surveys conducted by RTÉ and the Irish Times have indicated that an “overwhelming majority” has made a decision that was deemed “historical” by the media. Both media chains suggest that between 69% and 68% of voters were in favor of the Fine Gael political party’s proposition. The reform would allow for women to end their pregnancy with no restrictions during the first 12 weeks of gestation.

The Christian-Democrat Ministry of Health, Simon Harris -one of the major drivers of the reform-, read the numbers cautiously, although he tweeted a video before the polls closed, stating that he hoped to make Ireland “a more caring and compassionate place for women.”

The Irish president, Michael D. Higgins, and prime minister, Leo Varadkar, voted in Dublin, near their homes. Varadkar, who is himself a doctor, in favor of liberalizing abortion, said that the participation was high and that it would benefit their cause. “We are hoping for a ‘yes’ vote,” he claimed, stressing that the referendum was a unique opportunity to change the country.

Pro-life and Catholic groups have condemned the initiative. They believe it will lead to pregnancy termination in cases of physical or psychological deformities, which they deem unethical.

Until recently, for historical and political reasons related to its secular confrontation with England, Ireland was a bastion for the Catholic church. The country gained independence from the United Kingdom at the beginning of the 20th century. Following child abuse scandals and corruption within the church, the Catholic faith has declined. Three years ago, at the referendum to legalize gay marriage, the church adopted a much stronger position and lost. This time, the clergy decided to keep a low profile.