In a historic move, Ireland has voted to liberalise its highly restrictive abortion laws in a referendum. Ireland Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has called this as the culmination of a “quiet revolution” in what was generally considered to be one of Europe’s most conservative countries. Several voters supported the change by two-to-one, a margin considered far higher than any opinion poll in the run up to the vote had predicted, in the once deeply Catholic nation. This will allow the government to bring in legislation by the end of the year. While women are rejoicing this change, they are also quietly remembering Savita Halappanavar, who had died of sepsis at a hospital in Galway in October 2012. She was denied permission to abort her 17-week foetus as the foetal’s heartbeat could be heard. She was 31 when she passed away. Years later, residents of Ireland have not forgotten her and her struggle. Her name has become a cry of protest and several women took to the streets, chanting her name. Several women also took to social media to welcome the change. While one wrote, “Go Ireland. My partner and I could conceivably move to either Ireland or Poland – while I don’t plan on getting an abortion in the forseeable future, it is a pre-req that I’m able to make that choice if need be, esp my life is at stake. #VoteYes to repeal. #RepealTheEighth, another wrote, “#together4yes has allowed me to loss the guilt I have had for 20 years of boarding a plan to Liverpool to have an abortion. Sitting in a hostel on my own, almost bleeding to death. If I had know then Ireland was behind me it would have made it all easier. Thank you all.” Another wrote,”I’m not Irish, but Ireland is where I lived & studied for years, where I was raped & learned the reality of gender inequality, where I’ve continued to have important conversations with feminists, activists & artists. Here’s to progress today????#RepealThe8th #VoteYes,” while some, hopeful wrote, “Let this day go down in history as a great step forward for all in Ireland.
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