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Irish Bishops say people who voted for repeal 'may not be entirely happy with their choice’ one year on

Today marks exactly one year since the result of the referendum was announced

People celebrate in Dublin Castle as Ireland has voted to repeal the 8th Amendment
People celebrate in Dublin Castle as Ireland has voted to repeal the 8th Amendment
Image: Niall Carson

THE IRISH CATHOLIC Bishops’ Conference has said that many of those who voted to repeal the eight amendment last year “may now not be entirely happy with their choice”.

Last year’s abortion referendum paved the way for a rollout of services from 1 January, 36 years after the introduction of a constitutional ban on a termination of pregnancies was introduced.

Today marks exactly one year since the result of the referendum was announced, with 66.4% to 33.6% voting to remove the 8th amendment.

Marking the first anniversary, Bishop Kevin Doran and Father Dermot Meehan issued a statement saying that one year on, there remains “a real sadness that the majority of Irish people, for a variety of reasons, said yes to abortion if not for themselves, then at least as an option for others”.  

We believe that there are many who voted yes with a certain ambivalence and who may now not be entirely happy with their choice.

“In marking this anniversary, we reaffirm our belief in the fundamental dignity and right to life of every human being from conception to natural death.  This is not simply a matter of faith, it is what reason and common sense suggests,” the bishops said in a statement. 

Continue to campaign 

Six months after the introduction of legislation regulating the termination of pregnancies, the Department of Health has still not released exact figures on the number of people who have used the service.

It does not expect to do so until the end of the year, in order to give hospitals and healthcare professionals a chance to implement the service fully.

Together for Yes said earlier this week that it will continue to campaign on Ireland’s abortion legislation. 

Ailbhe Smyth of the Together for Yes campaign said the group will lobby the government on aspects of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act which legislates for abortion.

Symth said that she would like to see the three-day waiting period removed, referring to a stipulation requiring women to wait 72 hours after presenting to their GP before being able to terminate their pregnancy.

Despite health officials anticipating that abortion services would be available across the country from the start of the year, Smyth described the current availability of services as “geographically patchy”.

Figures obtained by last month show that just over half of Ireland’s 19 maternity units were providing abortion services three months into 2019.

In one instance, a hospital raised concerns ahead of the 1 January deadline that the implementation of abortion services could “overwhelm” its existing services.

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The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said its new Council of Life will find “new and more effective ways to serve life and to bear witness to the essential goodness and beauty of every life”, a mission it says it shares with “with all who recognise the right to life, believers and non-believers alike”.

Seven US states have tightened their abortion laws so far this year, including high-profile cases in Alabama and Georgia. Why is this happening now – and could abortion end up being restricted across the US? Or even banned? Sinead O’Carroll, Aoife Barry and Christine Bohan look for answers in the latest episode of The Explainer, our new podcast.

Source: The Explainer/SoundCloud


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Adam Daly

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