Abortion Referendum In Ireland Set For May / June 2018

Ireland's abortion referendum date is set for summer 2018 but ARC fear the wording for the vote may be too restrictive

A picture of abortion rights campaigners at a rally demanding an abortion referendum

Ireland will hold an abortion referendum next year regarding its controversial eighth amendment, which recognizes the equal right to life of the mother as well as the unborn child and effectively bans abortion across the country.

One of the most conservative abortion laws worldwide, the eighth amendment criminalizes all abortions unless performed to save the life of the mother.



Although the eighth amendment was supported by 67% of the popular vote when it was signed into law in 1983, the amendment has recently come under public scrutiny.

Stories of young children committed to psychiatric wards for seeking abortions as well as of suicidal women denied access to abortion because their physicians determined that they weren’t “suicidal enough” have recently circulated throughout Ireland, causing some to question whether the law is too strict in its ban.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has expressed views that the eighth amendment, which bans abortion in almost all cases, is “too restrictive.”

United Nations experts from the Geneva-based Human Rights Committee have also previously found that women have been subjected to “cruel, inhuman or degrading” treatment under Ireland’s abortion law.



Although referendums have had success in recent years in bringing about progress, some worry that the wording of the referendum will be too limited. Although the Abortion Rights Campaign (ARC) in Ireland welcomed the abortion referendum announcement, ARC spokesperson Linda Kavanagh states:

“We fear that it will offer only very limited abortion access and repeat the failures of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act.”

“We need broad-based legislation so that real and realistic access is given, otherwise thousands will still travel or break the law by importing and taking abortion pills.”

The abortion referendum was announced at the same time as six other public votes, including a referendum to remove or reform the blasphemy article as well as the mention of “women’s life within the home” in the constitution.

See here for more information on the upcoming referendum.

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