On Friday, Ireland will vote whether or not to remove their eighth amendment to the constitution. In short, the amendment passed in 1983, means abortion is illegal in the country even in cases of rape, risk to maternal health, or if the feotus is diagnosed with a condition where it cannot live beyond the womb.

The amendment reads:

“The states acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” 

In other words, the foetus’ life is equal to its mothers.

The only exception to the law is if the mother is in an immediate risk of death. The change was granted in 2013 after Savita Halappanavar asked for a abortion after experiencing severe back pain and was miscarrying but the doctors refused because “Ireland is a Catholic country”. Savita died of septicaemia (septic shock).

At present, women in Ireland who have an abortion are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Despite the penalty, alternative abortions are still a reality for many women in Ireland who risk their health by ingesting abortion pills.

If Ireland votes yes, leadership has promised to regulate abortion. The government has already published a draft legislation which would allow unrestricted abortions up to 12 weeks. If there are severe risks to the mother’s health or if there is a fatal abnormality to the foetus, a woman can still lawfully require an abortion after this time.

Come Friday, hundreds of thousands will head to the ballots to either vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to repeal the eighth amendment.

In what is such an important vote, thousands of Irish citizens living overseas are flying home to cast their vote and make a difference.

Joining forces with the hashtag #HometoVote #repealthe8th, many have taken to twitter to share their vote – many going to incredible lengths:

Women seeking abortions had to travel out of Ireland.

A flight from Australia to Dublin is roughly 22 hours.

You can learn more about #HomeToVote on the National Campaign to Remove the Eighth Amendment website HERE.

Image: Getty Images / NurPhoto