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The 25-year-old social media manager, from Brixton, south London, explains why it is so important for her to cast her vote.
Whether you’re voting yes or no, it’s so important that Irish women get to have a say over their own bodies.
It’s been a long time coming and should have happened a very long time ago.
I’m voting yes because I want Irish women to be able to access the same healthcare that I can access so easily now I’m not living in Dublin.
The fact we’re even voting to have control over our own bodies is ridiculous.
Why does Ireland have anti-abortion laws?
- When contraception became legal in Ireland in 1974, many believed that liberal abortion laws would follow suit. However, in 1981 several “pro-life” lobby groups launched an amendment campaign to protect the life of the “unborn”.
- At the time the political landscape in the country was relatively unstable, and Irish Taoisigh (prime ministers) were fearful of alienating the dominant conservative vote.
- Despite the wording of the amendment being ambiguous – “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” – the referendum resulted in a two-to-one majority in its favour.
- Regulation of abortion through a constitution is rare, given constitutions are difficult to change, meaning Ireland now has some of the strictest abortion laws in the world.
- Many international human rights bodies have criticised the amendment. In 2017 the Irish government held a Citizens Assembly to review the evidence on abortion law reform.
I’m very lucky in that my job is quite flexible and I have the holidays to make this journey.
There’s a lot of Irish men and women out there who are unable to make it. I applaud everyone who travelled miles just to vote.
The problem we faced was the date wasn’t confirmed until a few weeks ago.
My fare was £40 return, but if it was over £100 I’m not sure I would have been able to make the trip.
What is the #HomeToVote movement
- The controversial referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment – a clause in the Irish Constitution since 1983 that makes terminations virtually impossible in the country has reignited the #HomeToVote movement.
- It follows in the footsteps of the 2015 vote to legalise same-sex marriage.
- Irish emigrants from around the world are flying to their homeland to have their say in what looks set to be a knife-edge referendum. Current polls suggest it’s too close to call.
- The #Hometovote hashtag has been trending on social media since Wednesday, with hundreds of Irish emigrants making the trip from as far away as Brazil, Canada, America, mainland Europe and New Zealand, reports the Irish Times.
- One woman has even cut her honeymoon short to be there.
- There’s even a #VoterMotor hashtag, where people are tweeting in the hope of sharing lifts on the day.
- Several British universities, including Cambridge, Oxford, Birmingham, Nottingham, Goldsmiths, Essex and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, are also offering their Irish students bursaries to help them travel home this weekend, reports The Tab.
- Under Section 11 of the Electoral Act 1992, Irish citizens living overseas may retain full voting rights for a period of 18 months, should they intend to return to Ireland within that time frame.
For anyone who struggled to make the journey, I saw so many fellow Irish people offering money for flights, trains, lifts in their car…
It’s amazing how people can come together.
All my friends and family live in Ireland – and every single one is voting yes.
I come from a very large family with many cousins, aunties, family friends etc and needing an abortion could happen to any of them – including myself.
#HomeToVote in numbers
- In 2017, The Irish Abroad Unit estimated 1.47 million citizens were resident outside the state of Ireland, not including the population of Northern Ireland and their descendants in Britain.
- Only those who have left the country in the last 18 months are eligible to return and vote.
- Figures from the London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign, a pro-choice group, estimate as many as 40,000 people could be flying in simply to cast their ballot out of 750,000 Irish people living abroad.
- Ahead of the vote on May 25 an extra 125,000 people will likely be added to the electoral register after The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) said there was a surge in registrations.
- A vote on the issue held in 1983, which proposed adding the eighth referendum, was passed 66.9 per cent voting for it, and 3.1 per cent voting against it.
- The turnout was 53 per cent, amounting to around 1.2 million people.
I was very surprised to see my brother, 20, so involved with the referendum.
I always found the younger generation barely bothered to vote or even register in the first place.
I think they’re finally recognising this is their future and will affect every single one of them in some way now and as they get older.
He’s going to a festival but is making sure to vote with his friends before they go, which is amazing.
The #HomeToVote No supporters
Not everyone travelling back to Ireland to the ballot will be voting yes.
A No rally has taken place in Wapping, east London, organised by the campaign group London Irish United for Life.
No supporter Laoise Ní Dhubhrosa told the Guardian: "The perception in the media here is that the #hometovote is all about yes. We believe the unborn should be protected and the [eighth amendment] saved."
Archbishop Eamon Martin, the Leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, told Sky News: "The last big referendum in Ireland was an equality referendum, talking about marriage equality, and yet this particular referendum is to remove equality from our constitution.
I honestly thought I didn’t know people who had travelled to the UK for an abortion until people started to share their stories online.
So many girls that I went to school with shared their stories about travelling to the UK – including some of my friends.
I’m appalled they had to do this on their own without telling anyone and make that journey alone.
I can’t imagine what that was like when we were teenagers and just trying to do well in school and they felt like they had to keep their journey a secret.
I’m honestly not sure the outcome will be positive.
I’m hoping it will be a yes of course but I think it will be very very close.
I understand both sides and both have very strong arguments.
I think everyone expects all young people to vote yes but that’s not the case, while many are voting yes a lot of Irish I spoke to are voting no for their own personal reasons.
I think all we can do is make sure we all go out and vote, every single one is going to count.
Read the moving stories behind young people voting No in the referendum.
One woman travelled to the UK for an abortion when her baby's brain washed away in the womb.
Some polls have now opened for the referendum.
- Polls open on Friday morning and close at 10 pm. For advice on going home to vote, click here.
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