History could be made in Ireland with today’s vote on a constitutional abortion ban
When you think of countries that fully outlaw abortion, Ireland probably doesn’t spring immediately to mind. Unbeknownst to many outside of the Emerald Isle, Ireland’s constitution bans all abortions, including in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormality and life-threatening danger to the mother. But that could all change today.
Ireland is holding a historic vote today — the first in 35 years — on whether to repeal Amendment 8 of its constitution, the amendment that bans all abortions. And on Twitter, the hashtag #HomeToVote has been trending for days as Irish people living abroad return home in droves to take part in the vote.
— Nora (@tea_and_biccies) May 23, 2018
— Siobhan Gilroy (@shiv_gilroy) May 23, 2018
Many of the people traveling back to Ireland to make their voices heard compared their journey to the journeys Irish women are forced to take out of their country if they want or need an abortion.
Boarding a 13 hour flight from Buenos Aires to London. London to Dublin tomorrow. No one at airport knows what my repeal jumper means. No one here knows why I'm travelling. If this feels isolating for me, can't imagine how lonely it must be 4 her, travelling 2 the UK #HomeToVote
— Ciaran Gaffney (@gaffneyciaran) May 22, 2018
I'm coming #HomeToVote ! Will be traveling 5,169 miles from LA to Dublin and will be thinking of every Irish woman who has had to travel to access healthcare that should be available in their own country. Let's do this, Ireland! #repealthe8th #VoteYes pic.twitter.com/fZDxUIGrs9
— Lauryn Canny (@LaurynCanny) May 23, 2018
Just starting my journey #hometovote from Sweden. All I can think of is the 10-12 women who are nervously awaiting their bus/train/flight to get to their appointment. For women in a crisis, today is a day like no other. Time for care and compassion in Ireland. Time for change.
— Ailbhe Coleman (@coleman_ailbhe) May 23, 2018
Grotty early morning flight face on cos flights ain't glamourous and should not be the only way a woman can access heathcare. Thinking of the beautiful solidarity from my UK pals this week, and of all the UK docs who take care of Irish women every day #HomeToVote #Together4Yes pic.twitter.com/wuun5pnp8f
— Margaret Perry (@mapperry) May 24, 2018
And many have been encouraged by seeing others traveling for the very same reason.
— Laura Silver (@laurafleur) May 24, 2018
— Laura Silver (@laurafleur) May 24, 2018
Was actually so humbled and relieved to meet four other Irish people on the flight from Buenos Aires to London, all of them flying onwards to Dublin today or tomorrow to #voteyes. #hometovote #together4yes— Ciaran Gaffney (@gaffneyciaran) May 23, 2018
While the United Nations Human Rights committee has long called for a repeal of Ireland’s 8th Amendment, the results are certainly not guaranteed. Polling ahead of today’s vote showed 20 percent of voters were undecided — more than enough to overtake the narrowing gap between “Yes” voters and “No” voters. The tweets showed plenty of people going home to cast their votes to keep the current laws in place, too.
I'm so delighted two of my kids have come home from college to vote NO and maintain Ireland as being the safest place on planet earth for expecting mothers & bright eyed children #hometovoteno #prolife #savethe8th #savethe8thvoteno #hometovote #dublin #cork #limerick #waterford
— John Ruane (@johnruane_) May 24, 2018
— Ldn-Irish United For Life (@LdnIrishU4L) May 23, 2018
But many others consider their repeal votes to be for human rights, equal access to health care and body autonomy.
Just collected eldest son from Dublin Airport. In 2015 Ireland gave him his right – the right to get married.
On Friday he’ll return the favour and vote to give women the right to make decisions about their own bodies. #Together4Yes #hometovote #soproud
— Noeleen McHugh (@MchughNoeleen) May 23, 2018
My lovely son is coming #hometovote. This poor student used his birthday money to buy plane ticket home. Just messaged me "we will get you to the Emerald City on Friday" ❤️ He will #voteyes with his Dad. For his sister, his Mum & women of Ireland #togetherforyes @Men4Yes
— Colette Kelleher (@ColetteKelleher) May 22, 2018
If the majority of Ireland votes not to repeal, the law will stay in place and likely nothing will change any time soon — Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called today’s vote a “once-in-a-generation decision.” Even if the majority votes to repeal the amendment, nothing will change immediately — lawmakers will first have to create a new set of laws around abortion. According to the Washington Post, many prominent lawmakers and the Prime Minister support a repeal of the amendment, and new laws that have been floated ahead of the vote that would allow abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.
No matter what Ireland decides today, it’s a proud day for its citizens, who are making every effort they can to be a part of this vote. That’s what’s truly heartwarming and inspiring about #HomeToVote.