I’m adamantly pro-choice, but was ambivalent about liberalising UK laws. The Irish referendum has changed all that
They came from Los Angeles, from Bangkok, from Sydney, from Buenos Aires; from all four corners of the globe. One woman said her plane ticket was a birthday present from her boyfriend, who knew how much it meant to her. Others are funded by student unions, family whip-rounds, expats who have been away too long to take part. Young Irish women and men are coming home to vote in Ireland’s abortion referendum, many wearing their hearts on the sleeves of their repeal jumpers. They swap knowing glances in airports, proudly tweeting and Instagramming as they go. The #HomeToVote phenomenon is an extraordinarily moving, powerful sight. For what cause would you fly halfway round the world and back again? Only one that cuts to the heart of who you are, how you seek to live.
Repealing the eighth amendment would be seismic enough, since it’s what guarantees the unborn a right to life even when the mother has been raped, is practically a child herself, or is carrying a wanted baby with such severe abnormalities it cannot survive. But this referendum has become a public test of so much more; of a woman’s place in society more generally, of a scandal-ridden Catholic church’s moral authority, even of shifting dynamics between the sexes in the #TimesUp era.