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Ireland (!)

May 27, 2018

Ireland takes a large step forward for personal liberty and modernity with its landslide vote to legalize abortion:

We were told this was a divisive campaign. It was a unifying campaign. We were told this was a difficult issue for people, yet for many it was straightforward. We were told it was the third rail of Irish politics, so instead, the people led, from the activists and protestors to the canvassers and ordinary women and men who rolled up their sleeves, to the Citizen’s Assembly, to the women who shared their abortion stories. We were told about Middle Ireland. There is no Middle Ireland. Just Ireland. Its islands, villages, cities, towns, coasts, midlands, mountains, estates, flats, and fields. This campaign was intergenerational. Younger activists stood on the shoulders of those gone before them, and brought an energy, fearlessness, creativity and sense of unrelenting determination and optimism that inspired people across the board. The brilliantly eclectic make-up of the campaign brought in doctors, mothers, lawyers, students, trade unionists, the LGBT community, feminists, and everyone in between.

The only age cohort voting No were those over 65. That demographic turn might give some hope to Americans. Watching Ireland from the UK, Gaby Hinsliff ponders the central importance of sexual and body autonomy:

You don’t need to have had an abortion yourself to be profoundly grateful that the right not to give birth against your will exists, a backstop to every other freedom women have.

North Ireland remains a rather large impediment to Brexit. Only 56% of the electorate there voted Remain. More recent polling shows that now would be 69%. Seemingly, if you ask those from North Ireland whether they would object to having a rusty nail pushed through their foot, 13% there would be happy to try an inch or so before objecting strongly. But I give them credit for learning.

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