Irish men and women around the globe will soon travel back to their native land in order to vote in a referendum on the island’s abortion laws.
On May 25, voters will go to the polls to determine whether Ireland keeps — or nixes — its Eighth Amendment, which citizens voted to add to the nation’s constitution in 1983. It reads:
The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.
Irish Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy announced the decision to hold the referendum on the amendment, which dictates the Catholic-majority nation’s abortion laws, Wednesday:
I’ve just signed the order for polling day on the referendum on repealing the 8th amendment to the constitution and allowing the Oireachtas to legislate in this area - polling will take place on Friday the 25th of May. pic.twitter.com/vfMAHkalIB
— Eoghan Murphy (@MurphyEoghan) March 28, 2018
Ireland is one of only 50 countries that allows termination only when the mother’s life is at risk, CNN reported. Furthermore, incest and rape do not classify as legal grounds for abortion in the European country.
Calls to repeal the Eighth Amendment have been growing in recent years, so many are planning flights back to Ireland to vote in the referendum this spring:
— Certain_People (@certain_people) March 28, 2018
— Ewan Kelly (@ewanfromdublin) March 28, 2018
— Carrie M. King (@ARhoticStory) March 28, 2018
— Conor Horgan (@ConorHorgan) March 28, 2018
— Dearbhail McDonald (@DearbhailDibs) March 28, 2018
According to the Pew Research Center, Ireland has long taken a very conservative approach to abortion. The Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, first enacted by the U.K. but parts of which still apply in Ireland, considered abortion to be equal to homicide.
Any woman who sought an abortion, the law stated, would be “guilty of felony, and being convicted thereof shall be liable ... to be kept in penal servitude for life.”
The movement to undo the Eighth Amendment has been gaining a lot of attention recently. In mid-March, Kate McGrew, a pro-abortion prostitute working in Ireland, led protesters in a chant — “Hoes need abortions!” — before going on to argue abortion is a “right” and offers necessary “bodily autonomy” to sex workers.
Controversy over the Irish amendment first reached a fever pitch in 1992, when a 14-year-old rape survivor sought to travel to Great Britain to terminate her pregnancy due to lack of abortion access in her home country.
The teenager was allowed to travel to Great Britain only after the Irish Supreme Court ruled that requiring the young girl to go through with the pregnancy might lead her to commit suicide.
Today, thousands of Irish women travel out of the country every year to obtain abortions.