Ireland Repeals Anti-Abortion Amendment in Landmark Vote for Reproductive Justice

Voters made history in the landslide referendum
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After years of tireless campaigning, The Republic of Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to overturn the abortion ban by 66.4% to 33.6%. The referendum repeals Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, which was added to the constitution in 1983, which banned abortion in Ireland unless there was a “real and substantial risk” to the mother’s life. The vote joins other progressive steps forward for the country, including 2015’s historic vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

Leo Varadkar, the Prime Minister (or Taoiseach as it’s called in Ireland) said in a press conference,”Today is a historic day for Ireland. A quiet revolution has taken place, and today is a great act of democracy. A hundred years since women gained the right to vote, today we as a people have spoken, and we say that we trust women and respect women to make their own decisions and their own choices.” Varadkar, Ireland’s first openly gay head of government, campaigned for the the appeal.

The landmark vote saw thousands of Irish citizens working abroad fly home to cast their vote, as well as a massive social media campaign and support from Irish celebrities like Saoirse Ronan, Maria Doyle Kennedy, and Liam Neeson speaking out to repeal the amendment.

The results of the vote led to an outpouring of emotion from the crowd of protestors, with many chanting the “Savita, Savita”, in reference to dentist Savita Halappanavar, 31, whose tragic death in 2012 sparked international outrage. Halappanavar requested an abortion at a Galway hospital after a natural miscarriage, but the hospital refused to perform the procedure. She died eight days later from sepsis, which could have been easily avoided had the hospital provided her with an abortion.

Many gathered at the Savita Halappanavar mural as the results of the vote were counted. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Savita’s family have been campaigning for the repeal, and her father Andanappa Yalagi said last week, “I strongly feel that the younger daughters of Ireland should not have the fate of Savita. I hope the people of Ireland will remember the fate of our daughter Savita on the day of the referendum and vote Yes, so that what happened to us won’t happen to any families.”

In the wake of the successful repeal vote, Yalagi has said, “We are really, really happy. We have one last request, that the new law, that it is called ‘Savita’s law’. It should be named for her.”

(via CNN, image: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

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Chelsea Steiner
Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.