This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Irish Vote to End Abortion Ban

In a truly historic vote, the Irish decided yesterday that they wanted to end the ban on abortion in that country. Every news source has the story, such as the NYTimes:
The surprising landslide, reflected in the results announced on Saturday, cemented the nation’s liberal shift at a time when right-wing populism is on the rise in Europe and the Trump administration is imposing curbs on abortion rights in the United States. In the past three years alone, Ireland has installed a gay man as prime minister and has voted in another referendum to allow same-sex marriage.
The “yes” camp took more than 66 percent of the vote, according to the official tally, and turnout was about 64 percent.
The vote means that Ireland's Parliament will repeal the Eighth Amendment, which was put into place in 1983, banning abortion in almost every circumstance--allowing no exceptions even for fatal fetal abnormalities, rape or incest. In place of the Eighth amendment, Parliament has pledged to pass legislation that will allow unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy. 

The Prime Minister said that: "We want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the right choices about their own health care.” That's really the point here--granting to women the right to make their own choices about their own reproductive health. These are decisions that, of course, men never have to make with respect to their own bodies. 

An important complement to the availability of abortion is the availability of contraception, in order to avoid an unwanted pregnancy and thus help to reduce the demand for abortion. Irish lawmakers clearly had this in mind a couple of months ago, as the Irish Times reported that the government was thinking about introducing free contraceptives for everybody if the vote to remove the Eighth Amendment from the Constitution was approved. Since the vote did go that way, we'll have to keep tabs on the next moves.

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