Ireland abortion referendum: Pro-choice campaign calls 40,000 Irish expats home for vote


Pro-choice campaigners are calling on 40,000 Irish people living abroad to return to home to vote in a landmark abortion referendum this summer.

Ireland does not allow overseas voting and the Home to Vote campaign is calling on people to book transport back ahead of the referendum, which is expected on 25 May.

Voters will decide whether women they would like to repeal article 40.3.3 of the constitution, known as the eighth amendment, which gives a mother and her unborn foetus equal right to life.

The amendment, which has been in place since 1983, bans abortion even in cases of rape or where a foetus has a fatal abnormality.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said if the referendum backs a change to the constitution, the Government will table legislation for unrestricted abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Thousands of Irish voters returned ahead of the referendum on same-sex referendum in 2015 in which 62 per cent of the electorate chose to change the law.

Now, campaigners are hoping expats will return in droves to vote on abortion and have made a website with information about voter eligibility.

Polls indicate that Ireland will vote to repeal the eighth amendment. Young people in particular, who make up the majority of recent emigrants, favour overturning the law.

Mary Jane Fox, who recently moved to the UK, has said she will travel back for the poll.  

“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,” she said.

“It’s 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.”

According to official statistics, more than 30,000 Irish people emigrated between April 2016 and 2017. The Home to Vote Campaign estimates over 40,000 Irish people living abroad are able to vote in the referendum.

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