Ireland: First Country to Vote for Legalized Abortion on Demand
Thursday, June 14, 2018

Voters in Ireland approved a referendum to remove constitutional protection for unborn children by a vote of 66.4 percent in favor and 33.6 percent opposed. The vote repeals the 8th Amendment of the Irish It was replaced withProvision may be made in law for regulation of termination of a pregnancy." 


Policy Paper, Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy which includes “termination of pregnancy up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without specific indication”. In addition, the guidance states that “termination of pregnancy for a fetal condition likely to lead to death before or shortly after birth or for maternal health should not have a gestational limit in the General Scheme”; language that the pro-life movement in Ireland believes opens the door for late-term abortion on demand owing to the broad term “maternal health”.


The result places Ireland in the ignoble position of being the first country to vote to legalize abortion and not have it imposed legislatively or judicially. An analysis of the vote shows that 64.1% of eligible voters voted and a minority of 42.5% of Irish citizens actually voted to legalize abortion.


Despite the euphoria by government officials, including the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, The burden is now on lawmakers to devise legislation while political parties begin to form positions on the legislation. A provision to protect health providers’ right to conscientious objection is one of the controversies facing lawmakers and the cabinet. Health Minister Harris tweeted that there will be an opt-out clause for health providers opposed to abortion but that those who do so will be required to refer for abortion, including general practice physicians.


Lawmakers themselves may be denied the right to vote according to their conscience by political parties which may demand that members vote the party position. Sinn Fein’s TD Peadar Tóibín, who is opposed to abortion on demand, is preparing for the party struggle stating, “ I know some party members are obviously unhappy with the fact I have articulated a strong view on this but for me if there just one child under threat, nevermind thousands over generations, if there is one child I would have no choice but to grab with both hands the chance to save that child’s life.


“People have said to me, ‘well what if you lose your job over this’, and I said, it is not the end of the world if I lose my job, but if abortion comes in for the child, it is the end of the world. One child’s life is more important than my job, and every TD’s job.”

Other provisions of the legislation will include regulations on access to abortion inducing drugs which are expected to be covered under the country’s prescription drug program with a limit of $155 for any prescribed drug and are likely to be free to medical card holders.


Health Minister Harris to the Dáil on July 10 and 11, before it breaks for summer recess, while the Oireachtas Health Committee continues to meet over the summer to work through the details and to prepare legislation for consideration in September.