Ire­land votes in ref­er­en­dum to over­turn con­sti­tu­tional ban on abor­tions

Global Times - Weekend - - WORLD -

Peo­ple in Ire­land on Fri­day voted in a land­mark ref­er­en­dum on whether the tra­di­tion­ally Catholic coun­try should lib­er­al­ize some of the strictest abor­tion laws in Europe.

A bit­ter cam­paign has dom­i­nated pub­lic de­bate in Ire­land over re­cent months as nearly 3.5 mil­lion vot­ers are asked whether they want to over­turn a con­sti­tu­tional ban on abor­tion.

The pro-choice cam­paign had an early lead in opin­ion polls but lost some of its ad­van­tage in re­cent weeks and ex­perts have pre­dicted the re­sult could be ex­cep­tion­ally close, with many vot­ers still un­de­cided.

Peo­ple ar­riv­ing at polling sta­tions on Fri­day in more tra­di­tional ru­ral ar­eas and city cen­ters spoke about the mo­men­tous­ness of a morally com­plex de­ci­sion.

Chris Garvin, 20, who works in hu­man re­sources, said, “I’m not go­ing to try and sway peo­ple’s opin­ions but it’s a very, very im­por­tant mat­ter and I think it’s go­ing to af­fect every­body’s lives in some way.”

Ire­land has tra­di­tion­ally been one of the most re­li­gious coun­tries in Europe. How­ever, the Catholic Church’s in­flu­ence has waned in re­cent years fol­low­ing a series of child sex abuse scan­dals.

The ref­er­en­dum comes three months be­fore a visit by Pope Fran­cis for the World Meet­ing of Fam­i­lies (WMF) and three years af­ter Ire­land voted to le­gal­ize same-sex mar­riage de­spite the Church’s op­po­si­tion.

“The fact that it’s il­le­gal for some­body in Ire­land to seek med­i­cal treat­ment, hav­ing to travel out­side the coun­try and to feel that guilt, shame and iso­la­tion, it’s ab­so­lutely shock­ing,” said Belinda Nugent, 43, a com­mu­nity ac­tivist vot­ing at Lour­des Par­ish School in Dublin. “I’m go­ing to vote for what I be­lieve in.”

But in the small town of Kil­cullen, some 50 kilo­me­ters south­west of Dublin, voter Sean Mur­phy said, “I don’t see any rea­son to change from the po­si­tion we are in at the mo­ment.”

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