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Part 2 of three parts.

Ireland: Abortion laws and
2018-MAY referendum:
Exit polls indicate a strong "Yes" win.

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This topic continues here from the previous essay

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"Together for Yes" campaign launched in Athlone:

Dr. Peter Boylan, chairperson of the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists in Ireland, launched the Together for Yes national pro-choice campaign. He called the Eighth Amendment a:

"... failed experiment. The vote on May 25 is not a Yes or No vote to introduce abortion because it is already here in Ireland. In the last year alone, 2,000 women imported illegal abortion pills from online providers" in other countries.

He is apparently referring to mifepristone and misoprostol pills, which are usually taken 6 to 48 hours apart under the care of a physician in order to terminate an early pregnancy. 1 He said:

"These pills are very safe when used under medical supervision. However, if taken in the wrong dosage or at the wrong time they can cause serious, potentially fatal problems such as uterine rupture and hemorrhage.

We cannot ignore today's reality and risk waking up one morning to the news that a woman has bled to death, alone, in her bathroom."

Kevin Doyle, writing for the Independent, said that:

"... well known actors including Saoirse Ronan, Cillian Murphy and Liam Cunningham have thrown their support behind the Together For Yes campaign. The actors have taken part in a video released last night which lists a variety of ways women in Ireland are affected by the Eighth Amendment."

It calls for this to change "... for women's safety, for a just society, for a fairer Ireland."

The video's script states that "a Yes vote is a vote for compassion," with various actors saying it will help your sister, your daughter, your mate, your niece, your girlfriend, yourself, your mother, or your wife.

It concludes with 'Sherlock' star Andrew Scott saying: "This is a once-in-a lifetime vote", and Saoirse Ronan asking viewers to "please vote Yes." 2

Liam Neeson, writing for the Independent, said:

"There are times when we must stand for what is right. When the obvious injustice of a situation demands that we do so. For me, the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment is one of those times. A time to stand up and be counted. A moment when men must stand with women.

Men owe a debt to women in Ireland. For too long, we have at best stood by and at worst participated in a system that has stripped women of their human rights. Ireland has inflicted indignity and abuse on women for generations, and on a grand scale. In recent decades we have demonstrated the capacity to face the truth of such abuse, to own it and to do whatever we can to respond to it. And that is to our great credit. But the Ireland of the Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes is not another country, or a relic of some long distant past. Yes, gone are the days when our country used to drop our pregnant women and girls off at the gates of institutions that hid them behind high walls. Yet still we drop our girlfriends, wives, daughters, sisters and mothers to the departure gates at Dublin Airport, forcing them to travel to other countries to access basic healthcare services and denying them necessary aftercare upon their return." 3

"Magdalene Laundries" were work houses for single women who became pregnant or who were sexually active. They were run by Roman Catholic nuns, and were often emotionally, spiritually, and physical abusive. The last one closed in 1996. 4

Wendy Grace, is a broadcaster and freelance journalist. Writing for The Independent, she is concerned about the nature of the legislation that politicians will pass if the referendum is passed by a majority of voters. She wrote:

"The current [proposed}bill will allow for abortion for any reason of healthy babies of healthy mothers in the first three months, and that is just for starters. ... [It would] allow abortion up to birth for a baby who is disabled."

The current wording of the amendment only allows for abortions if the fetus is a threat to the life of the mother.

She concludes:

I refuse to be part of a system that pits mother against baby. This is not equality. Abortion is the tragic sign that the real needs of women are not being met.

A 'No' vote is our opportunity to unite together and say we can do a lot better for women, for babies, for Ireland." 5

An editorial in the Irish Times about

"... the potential impact of unregulated online advertising and of misleading information being disseminated via social media platforms.

Experience elsewhere suggests these digital campaigns are likely to increase in intensity as voting day approaches. Also that it will be impossible to gain a full picture of what is actually happening online before the vote takes place. The nature of targeted digital advertising, particularly on platforms such as Facebook, means certain messages will be restricted to specific demographic groups while remaining invisible to the rest of us.

A small number of individuals and voluntary organizations are attempting to monitor this activity in Ireland during the referendum campaign. Realistically, though, the best they can hope to achieve is an anecdotal snapshot. Nevertheless, last week they reported an increase in the volume of ads funded by anonymous groups outside the country, particularly from anti-abortion groups in the US. ..." 6

Fergus O'Ferrall, writing for the Irish Times, concluded that Article 40.3.3 -- which was was added to the Eighth Amendment the Irish Constitution in 1983:

" is morally repugnant and places women in dire situations. ... "

"Retaining the article means the current situation will continue whereby Irish women are in effect excluded from accessing health services in Ireland when faced with what they experience as a crisis pregnancy and so cannot be embraced by the comprehensive health and support services which would support them and thereby often reduce the need for terminations. ..."

"Those churches which wish to reduce the need for abortions would be better employed confronting the State with the need to address the appalling gaps in health and social services for women through new investment in comprehensive women’s healthcare and in social support services including child and adult disability services and pediatric hospice care.

It seems that the churches urging a No vote are simply 'virtue signaling' to their more traditional constituencies." 7

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2018-MAY-18: New York City: Pro-life supporters of Irish descent demonstrate at the Irish Consulate:

About twenty people of Irish ancestry rallied at the Consulate to promote retention of the 8th Amendment and continue the abolition of abortion in that country. A second group in Boston, MA held a similar demonstration. The New York group issued a statement after the meeting with Consular officials.

John Aidan Byrne, the founder of Irish Pro-Life US, said:

"We all know people at home, family and friends, and we can use our voices to educate them about the horror of abortion over here and how that shouldn’t be a reality in Ireland too. With God’s grace, Irish people will vote no to abortion on demand." 8

Results of a recent poll in Ireland by the Irish Mirror found that the voters were expected to vote:

  • 45% to vote yes and allow women to chose abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy;
  • 34% to vote no.


  • 18% were undecided; and
  • 4% had no opinion. 9

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2018-MAY-20: Catholic Church's stance on the abortion referendum:

Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, writing in the New York Times, said:

"The Catholic Church opposes abortion, and some Mass-goers here said priests had told their congregations that they would not be able to receive Communion if they voted yes in the referendum. ..."

For Una Mullally, who edited the book 'Repeal the 8th,' the answer to the dichotomy over gay and women’s rights is control.

'Misogyny is much more embedded in Irish life than homophobia,' she said. 'Ireland has a terrible history of oppressing women, and the legacy of the Catholic Church is control,' she added, referring to the thousands of unmarried women who became pregnant and were placed into servitude or mental asylums since the 18th century until as recent as the mid-1990s." 10

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2018-MAY-25: Voting in the abortion referendum:

Polls were open on Friday at more than 6,500 stations across the Republic of Ireland, from 7 AM to 10 PM local time (2 AM to 5 PM Eastern time in North America). Turnout was heavy -- about 65%. Vote counting began on Saturday morning, local time. Final results were expected early Saturday evening, local time.

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MAY-26: Exit polls indicated an unexpectedly strong "Yes"/pro-choice vote:

The Irish Times reported about 9 PM on voting day that an exit poll projects that:

"... Ireland has voted by a landslide to repeal the Eighth Amendment."

They based this conclusion on exit polls conducted by Ipsos/MRBI, an international polling agency. The polls predict a 68% "YES" vote to a 32% "NO" vote that would change Article 40.3.3 by more than a 2:1 ratio. 11

The new wording of Article 40 will be:

"Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy." 12

Article 40 had almost completely outlawed all abortions in Ireland. Few other democracies in the western world currently has such tight restrictions on abortion. They include Malta, Poland and Cyprus, which allow abortions only in cases of grave risk to the health of the mother, fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest. 12

Repeal of the Article will allow a vote to be taken in the Dáil (the Irish Parliament) on a proposed bill to allow women to request an abortion during the first 12 weeks of her pregnancy. This is approximately the first trimester.

The exit poll also indicate an overwhelming majority voted "YES" among almost all groups, including an:

  • urban vote of 71% to 29%,
  • rural vote of 60% to 40%,
  • male vote of 65% to 35%,
  • female vote of 70% to 30%,
  • young adult (ages 18 to 24) of 87% to 13%,
  • a majority vote by all age groups except for adults aged 65+ who voted 60 to 40% "NO."

They also showed that only 12% cited their religious views as the most important factor in their decision. 13

According to a RTÉ poll, members of the Fianna Fáil political party were the only political group whose supporters rejected repeal: 49.7 per cent to 50.3 per cent. This difference is within the statistical margin of error of the exit poll.

Nobody in the media had predicted such a strong "YES" response.

Early on Saturday morning, the "Save the 8th" campaign conceded defeat.

Campaign Director Deidre Duffy of the "Together for Yes" group said:

"We woke up this morning to a new Ireland. Ireland’s changed. No matter what comes out of the boxes now we know that things are different."

The group will now go through the legal process of shutting down.

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Action by the Legislature:

On DEC-05, members of the Dáil Éireann -- the lower body of the Ireland Legislature -- voted to pass the Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy bill by a vote of 90 to 15, with 12 abstentions. On December 13, the bill passed the Seanad Éireann, the upper house, by a vote of 27 to 5.

During December, Abortion Rights Campaign activist, Linda Kavanagh, said:

"This legislation has been a long time coming. The people of Ireland have been fighting for over 35 years to access abortion at home. Since Ireland’s decisive [referendum] yes vote on May 25th, more than 1,650 people have travelled overseas for an abortion and over 550 have imported safe, but illegal, abortion pills. The cruel reality of the 8th Amendment continues." 5

Following President Michael Higgins’s signature on DEC-20, abortion access became more freely available in the Republic of Ireland, as of 2019-JAN-01. 6

Abortions are now legal if:

  • Two medical practitioners (only one in case of emergency) certify that a continued pregnancy would threaten the life or do serious harm to the woman.
  • Two medical practitioners certify that the fetus is expected to die either before birth or within 28 days after birth.
  • At the request of the mother, if the pregnancy has not exceeded 12 weeks, and for up to 3 days following the certification.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "What can I expect if I take the abortion pill?," Planned Parenthood, at:
  2. Kevin Doyle, "Abortion is already here, says Dr Boylan," The Independent, 2018-MAY-07, at:
  3. Liam Neeson, "To respect a woman's right to decide, I'm backing Yes," The Independent, 2018-MAY-07, at:
  4. "The Magdalene Laundries; Ireland’s Dark Past," Claddagh Design, 2017-MAY-30, at:
  5. Wendy Grace, "A No vote is our opportunity to do better for women and babies," The Independent, 2018-MAY-06, at:
  6. "The Irish Times view on the abortion referendum: The shadow campaign," The Irish Times, 2018-MAY-07, at:
  7. Fergus O'Ferrall, "Churches’ stance against abortion is ‘virtue signaling’," The Irish Times, 2018-MAY-07, at:
  8. Calvin Freiburger, "Pro-lifers protest outside Irish consulate in New York to save 8th Amendment," Life Site News, 2018-MAY- 18, at:
  9. Niall Moonan, "Ireland's abortion referendum: New poll reveals 'Yes' side hold majority vote - but gap is narrowing," Irish Mirror, 2018-MAY-06, at:
  10. Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura, "Ireland, Enthusiastic About Gay Rights, Frets Over Abortion," New York Times, 2018-MAY-20, at:
  11. Dan Griffin, "Results," The Irish Times, 2018-MAY-26 at 11 AM local time, at
  12. "Irish abortion referendum: Save the 8th campaign concedes defeat – live," The Guardian, 2018-MAY-26, at:
  13. Luke Byrne, "Bishop says Catholics who voted Yes to repeal should 'go to confession'," The Independent, 2018-MAY-29, at:

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Home > "Hot" religious topics and conflicts > Abortion > Worldwide > here

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Original posting: 2018-MAY-08
Latest update: 2018-MAY-31
Author: B.A. Robinson

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