The Roman Catholic Church has long enjoyed a stranglehold on Irish politics and used it to treat women as sluts or virgins, both categories equally powerless. This goes on despite the church’s sorry record of imprisoning young pregnant women in Magdalen laundries, discarding infant bodies in septic systems at the brutal mother and baby homes that dotted the countryside, and above all, making abortion impossible to get within the country. Women seeking abortions have had to travel to other parts of the British isles in order to have the procedure.
On Friday, the Irish people voted on an amendment that would allow abortion under carefully controlled circumstances, and then only during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. That leaves out families whose pregnancy involves serious fetal deformity, often only detected at 20 weeks or more. But it’s a step.
Ireland voted to allow gay marriage, but allowing abortion seems a much heavier lift.
According to CNN exit polling, the votes to overturn the ban are there, although final results won’t be in until Saturday night. A vote to overturn would be a resounding victory for women, and a significant blow to the Church.