The land of ‘Céad Míle Fáilte’ set to welcome new referenda

We are becoming a more liberal society, but is Ireland ready for abortion?

Independent TD, Clare Daly, proposed a Bill which would allow abortions in the case of fatal foetal abnormality earlier this month. The Bill was rejected by the Government by a vote of 104 to 20. Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, reportedly ruled out accepting the legislation after receiving advice that it was unconstitutional. He has since been accused by Ms. Daly of ‘insulting people.’

The topic of abortion in Ireland has been the subject of a great deal of controversy for the last number of years. There was outrage in 2012, after the death of Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicaemia having being refused an abortion while she was suffering a miscarriage. In 2013, a new act was passed called the Protection of Life during Pregnancy. This act states an abortion is legal in Ireland if there is risk to a woman’s life.

However controversy rose again in 2014, when the question was raised whether or not to turn off the life support of a pregnant woman in order to give her unborn child a chance of survival. In this case, when it was deemed that the child wouldn’t survive, the life support was switched off.

The way that abortion is perceived in Ireland is changing. In the past, it was considered a great sin against the Catholic Church, but now opinions are changing with consideration to the health of women during pregnancy and the child’s rate of survival in the womb. But it’s not just opinions about abortion that are changing in Ireland.

Attitudes in Ireland towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) are increasingly liberal. Civil partnership between same-sex couples was made legal in Ireland in 2010, with the first civil partnership being celebrated in 2011. #
With the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum, it will be interesting to see if how Ireland will vote. A survey done in 2013 revealed that 73% of Irish people agreed that ‘same-sex marriage should be allowed in the Constitution.’
The Government are also working on Transgender Recognition Bill as Ireland is the only country in the EU that doesn’t recognise transgender rights.

Irish society is changing and we are becoming a more inclusive, liberal community. It is clear that we will be facing many referenda in the near future as Ireland becomes more comprehensive and welcoming.

By Eidhne Gallagher

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