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'Whatever the priest said, I went by': Here's women explaining why they voted for the Eighth Amendment back in 1983

A lot has changed over the last 35 years.

THIS YEAR, IRELAND finally removed the Eighth Amendment from our constitution. 

There wasn’t a shade of doubt in the public’s decision, as we saw a landslide victory for the repeal side back in May, with 66.4% of the country voting to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution.  

We have obviously come a long way since the Eighth Amendment was introduced 35 years ago, and a new video on RTÉ Archives is evidence of that. RTÉ spoke to some women on the street after the referendum, all of which had been in favour of introducing the Eighth Amendment. It’s likely that at least some of them changed their mind after witnessing the consequences that this legislation had on Irish people for almost four decades. 

Here are some of the explanations they gave on why they voted to recognise the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and the unborn. 

This woman said that she had initially planned on voting ‘No’, but had been convinced otherwise ahead of the referendum.

PastedImage-14360 Source: RTÉ

Well, I thought being a Catholic that I should vote ‘Yes’. At the start, I was going to vote ‘No’, but I was speaking to this woman and she says “Do you know what you’re doing at all?” 

Another woman said that she knew the Eighth Amendment would not stop abortion happening, but she voted for it anyway.

PastedImage-72520 Source: RTÉ Archives

It went in my favour really, but I don’t think it will stop people going to England to have abortions. I don’t think anything will stop them. If I was that way inclined, if I wanted to have an abortion, nothing would stop me – religion or nothing – would stop me from going to England to have an abortion. That’s the way I look at it. I just don’t agree with it. 

Another woman said she was voting ‘Yes’ for her daughter. 

PastedImage-40369 Source: RTÉ

I voted ‘Yes’ because I have a daughter and I’d hate to think that she could hop in here or anywhere and have an abortion at any stage. 

One woman said that she decided because she knew whatever her priest said was right.

PastedImage-7482 Source: RTÉ

I read a good bit about it and I heard about it and I heard the priest – whatever the priest said, I went by what the priest said because I thought that he should be right and he was, I’m sure. 

Interestingly, many of the reasons why these women voted ‘Yes’ back in 1983 were the same justifications that their daughters and granddaughters expressed before they voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment this year. Many who voted in favour of repeal this year did so because they wanted the best for their daughters, or because they knew that the Eighth Amendment could not stop anybody from travelling to the UK for an abortion. 

You can watch the full clip here.

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Kelly Earley

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