Historic moment: Ireland passed bill to legalise abortion
The Irish government on Thursday 13th December passed legislation allowing abortions.
For the first time in their history, three years after legalizing same-sex marriage. The new legislation will allow terminations to be carried out up to 12 weeks of pregnancy or in conditions where there is a serious risk to the life of the woman.
The Republic of Ireland voted to overturn the ban on abortions by 66.4% to 33.6% in a referendum back in May. At that time, abortion was only allowed when a woman's life was at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality. The Eighth Amendment, which grants an equal right to life to the mother and unborn, will be replaced. Only one constituency voted against repealing the Eighth amendment and that was Donegal, with 51.9% voting against the change. Although this is unsurprising when you consider how Donegal is a very traditional and religious constituency.
Ireland's more liberal regime
Despite the religious Catholic country that Ireland is, the influence of the Catholic Church has lessened. Ireland has become so much more liberal in the past few years. Passing the same-sex marriage bill in November 2015 and now abortion bill in December 2018. Irish women now have the right to termination in their own country, and that is a huge milestone for Ireland. Approximately 170,000 Irish women have been forced to travel to the UK for abortions since 1980.
However, now women in Ireland won't need to experience those secret journeys to the UK or the fear of being judged by other people if the secret gets out.
"The burden of shame is gone"
Just over 200 days ago, you, the people of Ireland voted to repeal the 8th so we could care for women with compassion. Today we have passed the law to make this a reality. A vote to end lonely journeys, end the stigma and support women’s choices in our own country
— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) December 13, 2018
The final step in the legislative process is the signing of the bill into law by President Michael D. Higgins. The Irish health service is now being prepared to provide the first abortions to women in January 2019.
What about Northern Ireland?
Northern Ireland is probably the strictest country in the UK in terms of abortion laws. Unfortunately, in NI abortion is not fully legal and women have to travel to the UK to get treatment. Many of these women are faced with doctors telling them they cannot help, and how it's down to the woman herself to figure out how to receive an abortion. It's sad how in one part of the UK and Ireland there's a country restricting its citizens from rights that other women across the region have. However, there is hope that NI can change, hopefully seeing the Irish Parliament passing this new legislation will inspire NI MPs to spark a change in NI law.