Emigrants urged to return home to vote in abortion referendum

An estimated 40,000 Irish people living abroad are eligible to vote in a planned referendum on abortion.

Campaigners are urging emigrants to return home to cast their ballot and have their say on whether to change restrictive laws on termination of pregnancy.

The Irish Government backed proposals to hold a referendum on abortion, expected to be held in May.

The London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign has kicked off its #HomeToVote social media drive.

Dubliner Mary Jane Fox, who moved to the UK at the beginning of the year, has already pledged to make the journey home.

"Even though I'm fresh off the boat in London, I'll be making the journey and encouraging everyone I know to go back too," Ms Fox said.

"It is ironic that so many Irish women are forced to make the same trip in reverse to have an abortion.

"I want to travel home to make sure this comes to an end."

The organisers said they want to emulate the surge in interest by emigrants who came back to Ireland to vote in support of gay marriage reform in May 2015.

The Home to Vote campaign aims to encourage any citizen living abroad for less than 18 months to return to vote in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which imposes strict limitations on abortion in Irish law.

More than 30,800 Irish people emigrated in the 12 months to the end of April 2017, according to the latest official figures.

It is estimated a further 20,000 emigrated in the second half of last year.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar outlined last week that voters would be asked whether they wanted to repeal the controversial amendment and replace it with new wording to allow the Dáil to legislate on abortion in the future.

Terminations are only allowed in the Republic when the life of the mother is at risk and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

Last December, a report by a specially convened parliamentary committee found the Eighth Amendment was not fit for purpose and should be repealed.

That followed recommendations from members of Ireland's Citizens' Assembly to liberalise the law on terminations.

The committee also recommended abortion be available up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without a woman having to explain her decision.

- PA


Related Articles

Mattie McGrath claims people illegally registered to vote; Varadkar says to 'cool conspiracy theories'

29 key questions in the Eighth debate

Vote No: We shouldn’t ignore the child in the womb and her basic rights

Vote Yes: ‘An issue so divisive, many people are afraid to talk about it in public’

More in this Section

Number of people injured in serious three-car collision in Wexford

Government and 'Yes' campaign exploiting my pain, says mother whose baby died nine days after birth

Anti-abortion protester interrupts event attended by campaigners for Yes vote

Minister of Health to take part in live debate tonight as campaigning continues


Today's Stories

No campaign in disarray over debates

Home town remembers Jastine Valdez with vigil

Self-harm among youth surges 22%

LÉ Aisling finds new lease of life with Libyan warlord

Lifestyle

New father’s life ‘changed forever’ after he was run over by surgeon

The biggest cancer killer will take your breath away

Hopefully she had an idea...

Power of the press: Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks discuss 'The Post'

More From The Irish Examiner