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My vote: What’s at stake in Ireland’s abortion referendum

OPINION

My vote

What’s at stake in Ireland’s abortion referendum

Today, Ireland held a referendum to decide whether to repeal the eighth amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the equal right to life of mothers and their unborn children. This effectively makes abortion impossible unless there’s a clear threat to the life of the mother. The Irish government has proposed legislation that would allow women to have abortions, without restrictions, within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The question has proved a difficult one to answer, with strong views on both sides of the issue, and many people still undecided on the day of the referendum.

Peter Laurent

28, county Wexford
VotingYes

I think I’m going to vote Yes. It feels like we’re kicking a football down the road if we don’t sort this out now. This is a building block, perhaps, to make health care safer for women in Ireland and not have to export our problems elsewhere. We don’t necessarily need to copy other countries, but we have to deal with our problems and not sweep them under the carpet and act as if nothing is happening.

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Ann McNamee

63, Dublin
VotingYes

I will be voting Yes because I think every person, whether they be male or female, should have a right to make a choice over their own body.

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Bill Vernon

75, Wicklow
VotingNo

The reason I’m voting No is because the referendum is extremely badly worded. The eighth amendment protects the life of the woman and child. This referendum opens the floodgates to abortion on demand. They’re going to let the genie out of the bottle, and we’re going to end up the same as everybody else.

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Rita

72, Wicklow
VotingNo

I will be voting No. I was born in England. Of course, there was no abortion there at the time, but I was adopted as a child. My mother didn’t tell anyone she was expecting a baby. I still don’t know who my father was. I believe that I could well have been a victim of abortion if it had been there at the time. So I feel very strongly about it.

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Sinéad Byrne

37, Wicklow
VotingYes

I’m voting Yes because women in Ireland are afraid of being pregnant, they’re worrying will they survive pregnancy, they are asked for pregnancy tests regularly when they’re going for cancer treatment, and cannot access the healthcare they need when they’re pregnant, and so they’re denied making choices for their own health care, and for their own families as well.

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Carmel Eagan

69, Wicklow
VotingYes

I definitely want the eighth amendment to go. I think it’s caused too many problems. But I’m not really happy with what we’ve been told is replacing it. We haven’t been given enough information. There’s nothing definite, and I worry about that. I’ve met my birth mother but I think that if abortion was available at the time she was pregnant she probably would have had an abortion. Obviously I am quite happy being me, and I hope I’ve made a little contribution to the world. I’m glad I’m here. From that point of view I would be anti-abortion. I’m still on the fence.

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Peadar O’Grady

53, Dublin
VotingYes

I am going to vote Yes. The central issue in this campaign is whether or not women get to decide on health care. This is a fundamental human right. The notion that people would consent on behalf of women means that there is no equality for women. And to live in a country where there is no equality is to live in a country where everyone’s rights are diminished. So all women and men should vote Yes in this referendum.

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Sophie Kavanagh

28, Dublin
VotingYes

I am voting Yes, and I am voting Yes because I trust women to make their own decisions about their bodies.

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Dr. Mary McAuliffe

46, Dublin
VotingYes

I will be voting Yes for many, many reasons. I have understood, through my studies in history, the control impulses that have been operating on women’s bodies over the centuries in this country, but particularly in the 20th century. How our government, and our state, and our church, denied bodily autonomy. Women who were suspected of sexual deviancy, or misbehaviour, or lacking in moral standards, were put into Magdalene laundries. The eighth amendment is one of the last big battlegrounds on women’s bodily autonomy. It is time that our country matured and actually faced up to the fact that Irish women have been having abortions for decades, for the last hundreds of years, but now they need to do it safely in a caring and compassionate way.

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Luke Cheevers

77, Dublin
VotingYes

It is a very complex issue and no matter which side wins there is going to be losers. But I trust the women of Ireland, I really do, and so far it seems that the majority of the women are in favour of a Yes vote. Women want complete control over their own bodies. That should not be in the hands of the state. I think there is more of a possibility that I will vote Yes.

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Sarah McCarron

30, Dublin
VotingYes

I will be voting Yes. It is my body, my decision. I think, in this day and age, that’s the way it should be. If, when it comes to it, I’d like to be able to decide myself what I want to do.

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Karen Lawless

36, Dublin
VotingYes

I am going to be voting Yes in the referendum because I think that it is a woman’s right to choose.

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Cathal Holland

63, Dublin
VotingYes

I’m going to vote Yes to repeal the amendment. When my sister was 15 she became pregnant and it was only years and years later that I discovered that my mom and her went to England to have an abortion. It made me very sad when I discovered it. I keep constantly thinking of my sister. She’s dead now.

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Sarah McSharry

25, Dublin
VotingYes

I believe everyone has a right to an abortion. It’s available in so many other countries, and it’s something that we need here. Ireland is so old-fashioned, and run by the church, and that needs to be changed. If a woman needs it she should have access to it, and not have to spend money and time and energy to fly over to England and have to do it there. It’s just exporting the problem.

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Nora Rooney

49, Dublin
VotingYes

I’m voting Yes for so many reasons. I believe in a woman’s right to choose. And I really don’t think it’s fair to impose your own opinions on other people. Abortion is a personal thing.

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Linda Daly

62, Dublin
VotingNo

I want to vote No because my mother was a single mother and had three children. And she didn’t abort me. I couldn’t possibly do it, and I wouldn’t do it.

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Melissa Byrne

18, county Kildare
VotingNo

I'm voting No because I think every single human being deserves the right to life. I believe in having a progressive society, a society that speaks up for the voiceless and protects the defenseless. Voting Yes in this referendum is removing a human right from our Constitution. Equality is what we as a society should strive for, but true equality doesn't infringe on another human being’s right to life. This referendum is not about choice, it's about whether or not we should allow one person to determine whether someone lives or dies. Discussing this topic with friends on the opposite side of the debate can be difficult. I've lost a few friends over the course of this referendum.

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Petra Szucs

32, Dublin
VotingUndecided

I genuinely have no idea what I’m going to vote. What are they going to replace the amendment with? We don’t know. Anyone that feels mature enough to go to bed should feel mature enough to deal with the consequences.

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Triona Horgan

59, Dublin
VotingNo

I intend to vote No in the referendum. The reason for me is very simple: I see two people, not one. Somebody has to speak for the most vulnerable.

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Seamus Coogan

47, Dublin
VotingYes

As someone who a passionate democrat, I believe in choice and that people should be free to make their own decision, whatever that may be. Without choice people are not free. That to me is not acceptable in a modern society.

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Isabel

32, Dublin
VotingYes

I’m voting Yes because from reading and listening to women’s stories, I think the situation as it is now is causing suffering and adding trauma to already difficult situations. I’ve done some campaigning and I know there are a lot of undecided people who are genuinely torn. It’s not an easy issue at all but I think it’s something the country has to face up to.

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Jenny Fitzgibbon

35, Dublin
VotingYes

I am going to vote Yes. I really want to just give people an opportunity for choice. I have two children myself and I have also had miscarriages. I have had different experiences and I know how difficult it can be. I don’t know if it is a choice that I would myself make, but I don’t want to let my own thoughts about that inhibit somebody else. So that’s why I am voting Yes.

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Catherine Power

62, Dublin
VotingYes

I am voting Yes because I think we have to move forward. We are exporting our abortion problems to the U.K. That is never going to stop. That’s been going on for years and years and years. I am really voting Yes for women’s health and to have the say so over their bodies and not to be dictated to – by mostly men. I didn’t think I’d see the day I would vote Yes, as a mother and now as a grandmother, but I think we have to just vote Yes.

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Jacobia Dahm is a Berlin-based photojournalist with a long-standing interest in social justice and vulnerable communities

My vote: What’s at stake in Ireland’s abortion referendum