Ireland abortion referendum: 'Yes' campaigners get behind #hometovote with generous cash offers

Clay Curtis
May 25, 2018

Central to the narrative for the "Yes" camp are stories of women terminating their pregnancies, many traveling overseas alone to do so. A few months after our journey to Liverpool, Savita Halappanavar died in Galway.

I began collecting election literature in 1982, the year before the referendum that introduced the Eighth Amendment. While it's technically illegal in New South Wales and Queensland, it is lawful if a woman's mental or physical health is at risk. Spokesperson Maeve O'Hanlon explains why Ireland should vote "No," no the upcoming referendum.

‪Abortion is already a reality in Ireland.

Because of the restrictive constitutional laws, each year more than 3,000 Irish women and girls travel to the United Kingdom to have an abortion, where the procedure is legal.

The eighth amendment was passed by referendum in 1983.

Only six countries in the world, including Malta in the European Union, still refuse abortions to women under any circumstances.

Anti-abortion activists say that the "Yes" camp is painting Ireland as a country that needs to modernize in the name of women's rights - a picture that independent lawmaker and leading anti-abortion campaigner Mattie McGrath says is unfair. We've heard of people booking flights from as far away as LA and Dubai.

Ais Mullins is flying in from NY and said she was determined to vote because "in Ireland we deny people who can become pregnant basic human rights". If not - then call friends and family back home and talk about why change is important to you.

I'm voting "yes" to give the women the choice and to let them have control over their medical decisions.

"I'm very proud to be part of this new Ireland", says medical doctor Andrew O'Regan.

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Voters need to choose whether to keep the Constitution as is or repeal the Amendment. The atmosphere to me is reminiscent of 2015, when the marriage equality referendum took place and love reigned supreme with 65 per cent of voters backing marriage equality - it's a spirited but nervous energy, fuelled by fears of being complacent when it comes to calling this historic vote.

"The conversation that has resulted in me going to the ballot box to vote "Yes" with certainty hasn't been a straightforward one", Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney wrote in the Irish Independent newspaper on Thursday.

Ahead of the vote, thousands of people living overseas are returning home to Ireland to mark their ballots. Our right to autonomy, freedom and basic health can not continue to be dictated by others, particularly not those people who will never know the monumental impact that pregnancy, childbirth and parenting has on a person's life. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) made similar recommendations in 2017, as did the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 2012.

"The right to life in the Constitution will be replaced by the right to end the life of an innocent person".

After that, abortions will only be allowed until the 24th week of pregnancy if there is a risk to a woman's life, or a risk of serious harm to the physical or mental health of a woman.

In Australia, abortion laws vary from state to state. It equates the right to life of a pregnant woman with that of her fetus, thereby almost criminalizing abortion. "Compassion means that we look after the mother and the child", he said.

"It's a rather unbelievable situation that we're going into the constitution to remove a right and we're actually going in there to remove the fundamental right to life from all unborn children".

The unborn life either has value or it does not and May 25th is our chance to have a say in a defining moment for our country.

Tomorrow's vote will be one of the most important events in the history of Ireland, one that will define who the Irish are as a people from now on. Halappanavar, 31, went to a hospital in grave pain.

Dozens of Irish emigrants in Canada have shared their stories online, with many pledging either to fly home for the vote, or to sponsor other emigrants who are eligible to do so.

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