Ireland Overturns 35-Year Abortion Ban In History-Making Repeal

The president has repealed the country's Eighth Amendment.

After years of public calls for change, Ireland has repealed its Eighth Amendment, which made abortions illegal in the country. President Michael D. Higgins signed the law on Tuesday, officially putting an end to the three decade-long ban.  

The move comes several months after the country first voted to rescind the ban on abortion earlier this year. A formal implementation of the repeal was delayed after a number of legal cases were launched, seeking to protect the amendment. According to Metro, the Supreme Court dismissed the last of these appeals earlier this month, allowing Higgins to sign the referendum.

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"The news has just come in that the president of Ireland has signed the referendum," Simon Harris, the country's Minister For Health, said in a video posted on Twitter. "So it is official. The Eighth Amendment has now been repealed."

The ban, which was put in place in 1983, prohibited abortion and assigned a sentence of up to 14 years in prison to those who sought out the procedure. Activists have been working to overturn it for many years. They finally saw the results of their labor in May, when a landslide 67 percent of Irish voters opted to repeal the amendment.  

"What we have seen today is a culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years," Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said after the vote, according to The Washington Post.

The repeal fueled a celebratory reaction on social media from citizens around the world: 

While abortion is no longer banned in Ireland, Higgins indicates that the government still has legislative work to do in the coming months in order to safely provide access to the health service. "My work obviously continues," he stated. "We now need to bring in the legislation so that we can enact services to look after women with care and compassion in our own country."  

As Higgins revealed in his taped statement, he plans to bring the proposed legislation to the Cabinet next week and to the Dáil (the lower house in Ireland's national parliament) next month.

Cover image via abd / Shutterstock.com.

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