Ireland voted to end its ban on abortion. Here's why that's a win for human rights.

In 1983, the people of Ireland voted to ban abortion. 35 years later, they took to the polls once again, reversing that decision in a landslide victory.

Though abortion was already illegal in Ireland prior to the 1983 vote, social conservatives feared that a court decision could render that law unconstitutional, much like what happened in the United States with the 1977 Roe v. Wade decision. So in 1983, to prevent the chance of court intervention, Ireland held a public referendum, voting to amend the country's constitution and adopting the Eighth Amendment, banning abortion in all situations.

In 2017, in response to public pressure, the government announced plans to put this question up for a vote once again. Citizens of Ireland voted on May 25, 2018, and the referendum to lift the ban on abortions won by an impressive margin.


Protesters demonstrate outside the Irish Embassy in London on September 30, 2017, following the announcement of the May 2018 referendum. Photo by Chris J. Ratcliffe/AFP/Getty Images.

To see the nasty history of the Eighth Amendment, look no further than the story of Savita Halappanavar.

In 2012, 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar went to the hospital 17 weeks pregnant. Her pregnancy had an unforeseen complication, and she was having what's known as a septic abortion or miscarriage. There was virtually no chance that she'd be able to carry the pregnancy to term, but doctors were prohibited from ending the pregnancy. Doctors tried to induce labor, resulting in her delivering a stillborn fetus. It was too late for her, however, as the sepsis had gotten worse. She died four days later.

Though the country implemented a law the following year designed to carve out narrow exceptions to the abortion ban in cases like Halappanavar's, abortion rights advocates argued that nothing short of a full repeal would do. Their opinion is shared by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, ruling in 2016 that "the balance that the state party has chosen to strike between protection of the fetus and the rights of the woman in the present case cannot be justified." Other human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International, concur.

Horror stories like Halappanavar's are all too common. In 2007, officials tried to prevent a 17-year-old known as "Miss D" from leaving the country to obtain an abortion after learning that her fetus would not survive birth. In 2014, a teenage asylum-seeker known as "Miss Y" was subjected to borderline inhumane treatment after learning that she was pregnant, eventually undergoing a coerced Caesarian section. These cases aren't about protecting some notion of "life"; they're about control and forcing women to experience absolute nightmare scenarios.

A woman stands in front of a mural inside the Bernard Shaw pub in Dublin, Ireland. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images.

Bor no ban, abortion has always been accessible for the well-off. The two-tiered nature of this is part of the problem.

Since 1980, 170,000 Irish women have traveled to a foreign country for an abortion, and Ireland makes up nearly 70% of all non-resident abortions in the United Kingdom. Repealing the Eighth Amendment is as much about providing access to all women equally as it is about human rights. Access to health care should not hinge on whether somebody has the time and money to take a multi-day international trip.

A man walks in front of a pro-choice mural in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, on May 10, 2018. Photo by Artur Widak/AFP/Getty Images.

Though Ireland has voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment, there's still a bit more work to be done before abortion will be legalized — and would still be rife with restrictions.

The next step is for Irish lawmakers to enact new guidelines on abortion. One popular proposal that's been floating around would make abortion legal in all cases during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Between 12 and 24 weeks, abortions would be limited to instances where the life of the mother or long-term viability of the fetus were in danger. After 24 weeks, only pregnancies involving fatal fetal abnormalities would qualify for an abortion. Additionally, people seeking abortions would be subject to mandatory counseling and waiting periods.

It's hardly the free-for-all "no" campaigners would have had you believe. It's also short of what "yes" campaigners would hope for. Still, it's a positive step forward for the country, and it will save lives.

A "Yes" canvasser poses for a photo in Dublin on May 12, 2018. Photo by Artur Widak / AFP/Getty Images.

More
Facebook / Mikhail Galin

Putting your pet in cargo during a flight isn't always safe. In 2016, the Department of Transportation reported a total of 26 pet deaths and 22 injuries on flights. Because conditions in cargo can be uncomfortable for animals, the Humane Society recommends taking your pet aboard when you fly, or just leaving it at home.

It's not surprising that one Russian man didn't want to put his overweight cat in cargo during an eight-hour flight from Moscow to Vladivostok. What is surprising is the great lengths he took to fly with his four-legged friend.

Russian airline Aeroflot allows pets to fly inside the plane's cabin, as long as the cat weighs under 17.6 pounds and stays in its carrier during the flight. When Mikhail Galin went to check in, he was told he couldn't fly with his four-year old cat, Viktor. Viktor weighed in at 22 pounds and would have to be relegated to cargo.

But Viktor was sick from their earlier flight from Riga, Latvia to Moscow. And besides, Viktor had been allowed to fly inside the cabin during that flight. The airline staff didn't even bother to make Viktor sit on the scales. Galin was unable to persuade staff to bring his fur baby on board.

"To all attempts to explain that the cat won't survive there on an 8-hour flight with the baggage and would haunt her in her nightmares for the rest of her life, she (the Aeroflot staff member) replied that there are rules," Galin wrote in a Facebook post translated from Russian.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Photo by Kelvin Octa from Pexels

Newborn babies don't seem to do much beyond eating and pooping and, of course, hiccupping. A lot. Parenting advice on how to cure a baby's hiccups runs the whole gamut. It's recommended parents try everything from nursing to stop feeding the baby so much, from giving the baby gripe water to letting the hiccups play their course. But when your baby hiccups too much, you shouldn't freak out. There's a good reason why.

A new study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that hiccups play an important role in a baby's development. Researchers from the University College London found 217 babies for their study, but only looked at 13 newborns with persistent hiccups. Ten of those babies hiccupped when they were awake, and three hiccupped during their "wriggly" sleep. We have no idea how the scientists got any work done with all that cuteness lying around.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
via The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon / YouTube

Actress Kristen Bell and "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon showed off their vocal and comedic chops on Tuesday night when the performed a medley of 17 Disney songs, spanning nine decades, in just five minutes.

The duo started with 1940's "When You Wish Upon a Star" and ended with 2013's "Let it Go" from "Frozen."

Bell will reprise her role as Anna in Disney's upcoming "Frozen 2."

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Ask almost any woman about a time a man said or did something sexually inappropriate to them, and she'll have a story or four to tell. According to a survey NPR published last year, 81% of women report having experienced sexual harassment, with verbal harassment being the most common. (By contrast, 43% of men report being sexually harassed. Naturally harassment toward anyone of any sex or gender is not okay, but women have been putting up with this ish unchecked for centuries.)

One form of verbal sexual harassment is the all too common sexist or sexual "joke." Ha ha ha, I'm going to say something explicit or demeaning about you and then we can all laugh about how hilarious it is. And I'll probably get away with it because you'll be too embarrassed to say anything, and if you do you'll be accused of being overly sensitive. Ha! Won't that be a hoot?

Keep Reading Show less
popular