Ireland’s abortion referendum divides country

World Today

A Pro-Life activist interrupts a Pro-Choice demonstration ahead of a May 25 referendum on abortion law, in Dublin, Ireland May 23, 2018. (Clodagh Kilcoyne)

Ireland heads to the polls May 25 to vote in a referendum on that country’s abortion laws. Currently, the 8th Amendment of Ireland’s Constitution gives equal rights to the unborn as it does to the mother. Voters need to choose whether to keep the Constitution as is or repeal the Amendment.

The lead up to the vote has revealed deep divisions within Irish society that still linger over this issue. Ireland made history in 2015 by decisively allowing same-sex marriage in the country by popular vote but abortion is much more contentious for the Irish.

CGTN’s Anand Naidoo spoke with Irish journalist Naomi O’Leary about just how Ireland has arrived at this referendum.

Abortion is illegal in Ireland but thousands of women leave the country to obtain the procedure, with most traveling to the nearby United Kingdom. Irish doctor Siobhan Donohue made that journey in 2011. She shares her story on The Heat.

The campaign has brought out campaigners on both sides of the issue. Love Both is an organization advocating to leave the 8th Amendment in place. Spokesperson Maeve O’Hanlon explains why Ireland should vote “No,” no the upcoming referendum.

And the election is impacting women beyond Ireland. English writer and mom of two Helen Linehan is actively campaigning for a “Yes” vote in Ireland’s abortion referendum.

The discussion on The Heat was contentious and revealed the fractures that exist in Irish society over the access of abortion in the Republic of Ireland.