The government of Ireland will start providing free abortions for women who need the procedure after the official repeal of its national constitution’s Eighth Amendment, which previously outlawed the usage or practice of abortion with the exception of the woman’s life being at a serious medical risk.
On Tuesday, September 18, Irish President Michael D. Higgins signed the abortion referendum bill into law, after the repeal was passed by 66% of total voters in May through a constitutional referendum. According to the country’s health minister, Simon Harris, of the center-right Fine Gael political party, reproductive healthcare procedure should be complementary under Ireland’s universal healthcare system, in order to ensure that women do not have to make costly travel all the way to neighboring Britain where it is legal.
While Ireland is making progress with women’s reproductive healthcare issues, other countries throughout Europe continue to have one of most restrictive abortion laws in the world. Poland, a predominately Catholic country in post-communist Eastern Europe, abortion is permitted only in cases of rape, incest, and fetal impairment; however, in 2016, thousands of women mostly dawned in black clothing took to the streets of Warsaw and other major cities to protest attempts at a total ban on the procedure. Micro-states in southern Europe such as Malta, Andorra, and Vatican City have also strict anti-abortion laws and regulations on their books.
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