By Rachel Petticrew
In late 2017, an Oireachtas Committee voted in favour of repealing the Constitutions eighth amendment. Late on Tuesday evening, the referendum was announced for the 25th May 2018.
The referendum will allow Irish people to vote in favour of, or against the legalisation of abortion.
The proposed 12-week limit was a topic of great debate in the Dáil last year and continues to cause disagreements and clashes between TD’s.
The limit means that in normal circumstances a woman could have a legally authorised abortion, in Ireland, up the twelfth week of pregnancy.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who supports the 12-week limit, has stressed that abortions are already happening in Ireland, but in dangerous situations that put the lives of Irish women at risk.
Methods involve purchasing ‘abortion pills’ online, which should not be taken without proper medical supervision. Over a thousand pills were seized by Irish customs in 2017. Thousands of women also travel to abortion clinics abroad (primarily in the UK) each year.
At the GTI Gazette, we decided to go out on the streets of Galway and find out what people think about the 12-week limit.
We asked people in the city centre and on-campus at NUIG whether they agreed with the proposed 12-week limit on legal abortions.
- A significant proportion of those we spoke to, 35%, were opposed to the legalisation of abortion entirely.
- Another 11.5% believed 12 weeks was too far, that an abortion should happen before this point. All of these people, who total 46.5% of those we questioned said that they would be voting against abortion in the upcoming referendum.
- A further 38.5% said they agreed with the 12-week limit.
- 8% felt that 12 weeks was not enough time – an opinion which has been reflected in the Dáil, due to concerns over women who may be unaware of their pregnancy for a number of weeks, and for victims of rape, who may have to undergo tests.
- Just under 4% were indecisive or did not feel they were not informed enough to have an opinion.
- The same percentage refused to comment on the issue.
Varadkar has stressed that abortion is “not a black and white issue”, and many of those we spoke too in Galway felt the same way. Many believed it was not their place to comment or make judgments on such a personal and sensitive circumstance.
A number of those we questioned made it clear they disagreed with the government’s idea of a ‘limit’. They believed that every case differs, and the outcome should be decided strictly by those affected, their families and medical professionals.
It seems that a considerable proportion of the people we spoke to were not well informed on the issue, even though most acknowledged that they would vote, one way or another, in the referendum.
If you are not registered to vote, or you would like to check the register of electors, you can do so at www.checktheregister.ie.