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Vote on repealing Ireland's abortion ban has women flying home thousands of miles to cast ballots

Ireland is voting on whether or not to repeal the country’s Eighth Amendment. (Photo: Getty Images)

Irish citizens are flying home from around the world to vote in the referendum on whether to overhaul the legislation that currently outlaws abortion in almost all circumstances.

Posting under the hashtag #HomeToVote, hundreds of women and men are sharing the journeys they are making on Twitter.

Citizens on both sides of the argument are traveling from as far afield as Sydney, Buenos Aires, Tokyo, and Los Angeles to cast their ballots on Friday.

The referendum will ask voters to have their say about whether to repeal Ireland’s Eighth Amendment, a law banning abortion except in a small number of circumstances.





Niamh Downey, an account executive living in London, is flying back to her hometown of Dundalk in order to vote yes to repeal the amendment.

Her two younger sisters are also flying home to cast their ballots, with one traveling from Valencia, Spain, and the other also from London.

“There are a lot of No posters around my hometown,” Downey said, referring to the campaign to oppose abortion.

“For me the concern was that more liberal counties such as Dublin may come across as having a lead for Yes in the polls, but I think perhaps that there might be a stronger No contingency in my hometown.

“We’re flying home simply to vote; I’ll be back [in London] on Saturday.”

Niamh Downey is traveling from London to Ireland to vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment. (Photo: Courtesy of Niamh Downey)

The #HomeToVote movement on Twitter has made for poignant reading for those flying back to their Irish hometowns.

“It’s very emotional reading through [the hashtag] on Twitter,” Downey said.

“I feel a reassurance that, perhaps, these Irish expats are going to swing this vote, because at the minute it’s very close.

“This is a highly emotive debate, and I do understand and appreciate that, but it’s a very simple and clear decision for me. I’ve had family members and friends impacted by the Eighth Amendment.

“Women have died. They have had no choice since 1983 and before that.”

Karen Fahy, 26, is also flying from London to vote but is in favor of upholding the ban on abortion.

She told the BBC that she doesn’t want abortion to be “the first and only choice” for women who have unplanned pregnancies.

“We should be investing and providing support for women in crisis pregnancies,” she said.

“In those very difficult situations when there’s a very severe disability, we should provide more child benefit and support women in education.”

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