Ireland’s almost total ban on abortion could be overturned later this spring. Lawmakers approved and introduced a bill last week that initiates a process to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the nation’s constitution, which blocks abortion except in cases of danger to the mother’s life. The bill will allow the Irish Parliament to make new laws regarding abortion.
Irish voters will decide the fate of the bill in a May 25 referendum, and both pro-life and pro-abortion campaigners are working hard to sway public opinion. Pro-abortion marchers hit the streets of Dublin on Thursday in recognition of International Women’s Day, where they demanded a repeal of the Eighth Amendment. Leading abortion activist Ailbhe Smyth called the bill “a historic and momentous day for Ireland, and for the women of Ireland in particular.”
Thousands of Irish women travel to the United Kingdom for abortions each year, and under a new rule, the U.K.’s National Health Service pays for them. Perhaps a harbinger of shifting attitudes in Ireland, the Irish Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that apart from a right to life, unborn babies don’t have any constitutional rights.
But pro-life support in Ireland remains strong. More than 15,000 pro-lifers marched in Dublin on Saturday to voice support for the Eighth Amendment.
“For the next 11 weeks, our message will be focused on ensuring that the Irish people vote no to this extreme abortion referendum,” organizer Niamh Uí Bhriain said. —S.G.