It’s a huge, landmark victory for women.
In an unexpected landslide and overwhelming victory for women, Ireland voted to repeal its abortion ban, which has long been one of the strictest in the world. The New York Times reports the vote marks a strike against “generations of conservative patriarchy” and the Roman Catholic Church.
“What we have seen today really is a culmination of a quiet revolution that’s been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years,’ Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said at a counting center in Dublin before the results were released. “The people have spoken and the people have said: We want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the right choices about their own health care.”
The vote Friday was to repeal the Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s Constitution, which is a measure established in the early ’80s and banned abortion under almost all circumstances. Under the Eighth Amendment’s reign, countless Irish women were forced to leave the country or buy illegal pregnancy-ending drugs online. Women risked a 14-year jail sentence for breaking the terms set by the ban.
Doctors will now be able to provide abortions in Ireland, though they’ll still be able to “conscientiously object to termination” at their clinics if they choose.
In the months leading up to the vote, women from Ireland shared stories of pregnancies they were forced to carry to term and extreme measures they were forced to take as a result of the ban. As Broadly recently reported, women from Ireland who were living abroad were so dedicated to repealing the Eighth Amendment that many of them flew home to vote.
Summarizing what many women in Ireland felt Saturday as the results were announced, Una Mullally, a prominent campaigner for abortion rights, told the New York Times the vote was met with ecstatic disbelief.
“All of us have underestimated our country,” Mullally told the Times, crying. “I dreamed for people to think like this, but didn’t believe it.”