Ireland says Yes to the right to abortion

A landslide and unexpected victory for the Yes camp: two-thirds of voters in once strictly Catholic Ireland cast their ballots for the liberalisation of the country's abortion laws. At 64 percent, voter turnout was higher than for the referendum on gay marriage. Journalists take differing views of the result and examine the repercussions it may have elsewhere.

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Irish Examiner (IE) /

Throwing off Catholicism's yoke

The result of the referendum is a break with the country's own past, the Irish Examiner concludes:

“Friday's scream-it-from-the-rooftops call for change moved Ireland out of the shadow of another imperialism, one that has enjoyed, and too often misused, hegemony since the foundation of this State. ... The two-to-one verdict is all the more astonishing as it was direct reversal of the 67% in favour and 33% who opposed the Eighth in 1983. This shows how fundamentally this society has changed its relationship with conservative, moral-reservation Catholicism.”

Rzeczpospolita (PL) /

A dreadful consequence of the financial crisis

The conservative daily Rzeczpospolita is appalled at the result:

“Certainly the result of this referendum represents a cultural revolt in Ireland, which until recently stood for a combination of tradition and modernness, of religious belief and economic success. ... The financial crisis of 2009 put an end to this idyll, it destroyed the work of at least two generations of Irish. ... People who fulfilled their duty in the hope of acquiring security felt betrayed and robbed of their future. This is why they have decided for rights - even the most despicable - in the hope of regaining their self-determination. But in doing so they are confusing the freedom they so desire with the rejection of all responsibility. This is the death of the traditional social order.”

Der Standard (AT) /

Theresa May under pressure

The Yes in Ireland will also have consequences for London, writes Der Standard, pointing out that "there is now only one country in the whole of Europe that is backwards regarding women's rights: the Northern Irish part of the United Kingdom. There, the Catholic Church has formed an unholy alliance with Protestant fundamentalists. And their political arm, the DUP, is keeping Theresa May's weak government in power in London. It will be interesting to see how the declared feminist in Downing Street deals with the now acute conflict. So far the British elite has talked somewhat arrogantly about Irish backwardness, pointing at the same time to the regional autonomy. The first argument is now passé and the second won't hold out for long.

De Morgen (BE) /

Belgium needs new abortion legislation too

Now that the Irish have voted for the right to abortion the situation in Belgium also needs to be improved, De Morgen demands. There the law allows pregnancies to be terminated before the twelfth week of conception, and after that is only legal in certain health-related cases:

“One in five women in Belgium has decided to have an abortion at some point. We know them all. The friend, the neighbour, the niece or the aunt who once had an abortion but doesn't want to talk about it openly. Because abortion still bears the stigma of being something only selfish, promiscuous or naive women resort to. ... But no one makes such a decision lightly. Another misunderstanding is that our abortion law from 1990 is progressive enough and doesn't need to be reformed.”