By Sarah Bates
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Victory for abortion rights in Ireland

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Issue 2606
Celebrating the referendum result in Dublin - and demanding change in Northern Ireland
Celebrating the referendum result in Dublin

Irish voters have delivered a landslide two-to-one vote to repeal the 8th Amendment and to liberalise abortion laws.

It is the result of relentless campaigning over decades and of massive grassroots organisation. It was crucially a movement from below. 

This is a huge victory and is of worldwide importance. It is a blow to conservative forces in Ireland and Britain that seek to control women’s bodies.

The result was conclusive. Over 66 percent voted Yes to repeal the anti-abortion clause in the constitution.

The formal announcement of the result was greeted by joyous scenes at the count in Dublin and throughout Ireland.

The turnout, 65 percent, was larger than for the equal marriage referendum in 2015.

And the vote to repeal was widely supported in rural Ireland, as well as the cities—Donegal was the only constituency that voted in favour of No.


Brid Smith, People before Profit TD (Member of Parliament), told a celebration in Dublin “We’ve put a nail in the coffin of moralism, and Catholic nonsense.”

The Protestant Orange Order was also for a No vote.

The strength of the pro-choice majority is a decisive blow against those who want to control women’s bodies.

Sinead Kennedy from the Together for Yes campaign told Socialist Worker, “It is an extraordinary day. A grassroots campaign led by women, many of whom had never been involved in politics, removed one of the most oppressive articles in our constitution.

“Today Ireland finally acknowledged that women deserve choice and bodily autonomy. We have literally made history.”

Leading bigots in the Save the Eighth campaign admitted as early at 10.30am on Saturday that they had lost.

The vote means that the Irish parliament, the Dail, will legislate for new rules on abortion—likely to be up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The 8th was added into the Irish Constitution in 1983 and wrote into law that the life of the woman was on equal footing of the life of a foetus.

At the moment abortion is only available when a woman’s life is at risk. Women still face up to 14 years in prison for trying to get an abortion.

Ireland’s stunning referendum victory will make it harder to continue to deny Northern Irish women basic rights.

As 2 million women in Ireland have just gained rights over their own bodies, around 1 million women in British-ruled Northern Ireland are still subject to some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.

Getting the bigots on the back foot in Ireland
Getting the bigots on the back foot in Ireland
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Brid vowed to continue the fight “For an Ireland that gives women a real right to choose, the right to choose to have a family as well as not to continue a pregnancy.”

The fight must begin for quality healthcare where women are able to access abortion services on demand.

Activists will need to fight the state tooth and nail for proper investment into women’s hospitals, sexual health clinics and specialised abortion services.

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