On Friday 25 May, voters in Ireland voted by majority in a referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution and overturn the country’s ban on abortion. As a result of the referendum vote, 66.4% in favour to 33.6% against, the Eighth Amendment – article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution –will be replaced with a clause stating: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy" and the government will soon bring forward subsequent legislation in the Dáil.
Micheál Martin TD, the leader of our Irish member party Fianna Fáil, reacted to the results in a speech in the Irish Parliament: "The outcome of this referendum has been as clear and decisive as it could possibly have been. There is no doubt about what we must do. With an overwhelming majority, the people have given the Oireachtas the right and the duty to quickly legislate for a new approach founded on the core principle of trusting women and their doctors. It is a historic change, but not one which came about easily. It is a revolutionary moment fundamentally based on the tireless, passionate and loud advocacy of active citizens."
"This change could not have come about without the incredible bravery and dignity of women who came forward, both publicly and on a more personal level to tell their stories of the cruel inflexibility of a system which both judged them and denied them care. I want to personally thank the women and men in many different settings and in all parts of the country who spoke to me about their experience of life under the Eighth Amendment."
"The best part of this campaign was how the cause for change was led by the largest and most diverse civil society campaign ever assembled in this country. Led by women and committed to keeping the voices of women central to the debate, the Together for Yes campaign – as well as the umbrella organisations which operated before the campaign – provided an immense service to our democracy."
"The Irish people have had their say. They looked at the evidence, engaged in a long debate and reached an absolutely clear decision. They want change. They want laws which end the inhuman inflexibility which was embodied in the 8th amendment. They want us to trust the decisions of women and of the medical professionals who they rely upon for care. We have had a campaign dominated by the voices of women and stories which have challenged all of us to listen. It is now up to us to act by rapidly and comprehensively implementing the people’s decision," he concluded.
I want to recognize and pay tribute to all of those involved in @Together4yes during #8thRef It was a positive and respectful campaign that gave our nation the space and opportunity to think, talk about and ultimately make this momentous decision.— Micheál Martin (@MichealMartinTD) May 26, 2018
Fianna Fáil members were given freedom of conscience meaning each member was permitted to vote in accordance with their own view. Timmy Dooley TD , also an ALDE Party Vice President, supported 'Yes' in the campaign.
What looks like a landslide majority to #Repealthe8th - will hopefully bring some closure to the burden of shame felt by so many women who were forced to slip quietly into the darkness rather than having the care of their Doctors in daylight.