Irish voters will take to the polls on Friday to decide whether the country should repeal a law that protects the life of the unborn.
“The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right,” says Ireland’s eighth constitutional amendment.
Currently Ireland, a largely Catholic nation, puts the life of an unborn child on equal footing with the life of the mother. In 2013, Ireland passed a law allowing mothers to obtain abortions, but only if their life was at risk. Most Irish women currently travel abroad to have abortions.
If passed, it is likely that abortion laws in Ireland will still be more stringent than they are in the U.S. A bill has been proposed that would allow abortions only until week 12 of pregnancy, and would allow medical professionals to conscientiously object.
But many “No” voters fear that handing over a small amount of power to the government on this issue is a slippery slope.
“Essentially what we’re talking about here is removing the most fundamental right to life for all,” said Sile Quinlan of Love Both, an organization specifically dedicated to promoting a “No” vote. “[We will be] handing a blank check over to our politicians to legislate how they see fit for abortion. And more than likely if we vote ‘Yes’ on May 25th we, the Irish people, will never again be asked for our view on the issue.”
Still, the “No” voters are holding their ground.
“I want to live in a life-affirming society,” said Muireann Lynch also of Love Both. “I’m not blind to the realities of pregnancy. I’ve been through pregnancy. I’m not blind to the realities of what we did to women in the past and continue to do to women today but I don’t want to move to a situation where for every four babies that are born, one baby is aborted.”
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