Kirsten Mullin is a senior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Economics at Haverford College.
In a landslide victory for women’s reproductive rights, the Republic of Ireland voted in a country-wide referendum on May 26th, 2018 to overturn the country’s restrictive abortion ban. Before the vote, Irish abortion law - legislated in the 8th amendment to the constitution and the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act - was among the most restrictive in the world. The law allowed for abortion only in cases where there was a clear threat to the life of the mother and barred even cases of incest or rape . The Irish electorate’s decision to repeal country’s the abortion ban leaves Malta as the only country in Europe where women are unable to access safe and legal abortions within the country’s borders .
Throughout its history, the Republic of Ireland has been viewed as a conservative state rooted in the values of the Catholic Church. However, the influence of the church has been waning in recent years largely as a result of a string of highly publicized sex scandals. Accompanying the decline in influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland has been a string of legislative reforms reflecting an increasingly liberal society; contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage and now abortion have all been legalized in the past 30 years .