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Ireland votes to repeal the constitution's abortion ban

[JURIST] Citizens of Ireland voted on Friday to adopt the Thirty-Sixth Amendment [text, pdf] of the Constitution, thereby repealing the Eighth Amendment's [text] ban on abortion.

The referendum vote passed [the Guardian, report] 66.4 percent to 33.6 percent, with 64.1 percent voter turnout.The Amendment will allow the Oireachtas [official website], Ireland's legislature, "provide for the regulation of termination of pregnancy."

In March, the Minister of Health Deputy Simon Harris in opening debate in the Seanad said:

I recognise the deeply held views on all sides of this debate and I respect them. I dislike the labels that are used to characterise this debate because I believe that those of us who believe in providing care and support for women who make the very difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy are not doing so out of disrespect for unborn life. All of us love life. All of us wish to protect life. However, I trust that no woman arrives at this decision lightly, and I trust doctors to make the clinical decisions and provide the care to support them. If the eighth amendment is repealed, I believe we can replace it with a balanced legal framework that sets out the circumstances in which terminations are lawful, and they will remain unlawful in all others.

The amendment awaits the final stage, which is the President's signature.

Abortion has been at the forefront of Ireland's politics throughout the last year. The Belfast City Council [official website] voted in April to decriminalize abortion upon requests from Amnesty International, Family Planning Association and Both Lives Matter [advocacy websites]. In March,the Supreme Court of Ireland [website] ruled that unborn children are not offered additional protections apart from the right to life in the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland. In July of last year the Irish Parliament defeated a bill [JURIST report] that would have allowed abortion. In June the UK Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that women from Northern Ireland are not entitled to abortions under the England's National Heath Services (NHS) [official website].

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