Friday, May 25, is a major day in Ireland. Voters across the country will have a chance to vote on whether or not to strike down a constitutional amendment that outlaws abortion. In anticipation of Friday, Irish voters who live abroad have been sharing their excitement for traveling back to the country via #HomeToVote tweets about the Irish abortion referendum.
On Thursday, the hashtag featured stories of those travels and people applauding the efforts made by those making the trip for the referendum.
"It's beautiful to see the #hometovote tweets from people for yes," tweeted Sarah Ditum, a columnist whose work regularly features in The Guardian. "You're all traveling so women in crisis won't have to. Hoping so hard for the right result for Irish women and an end to the Eighth."
"The Eighth" (Amendment of the Irish Constitution) was issued in 1983 and is the one that specifically bans abortion. Now, 35 years later, Irish voters have a chance to either repeal or sustain the law, and pro-abortion rights voters are going to great lengths to be present for the referendum.
#HomeToVote!" tweeted Lauryn Canny, an actress who lives in Los Angeles. "Will be traveling 5,169 miles from LA to Dublin and will be thinking of every Irish woman who has had to travel to access healthcare that should be available in their own country. Let's do this, Ireland!"
Another user, Ailbhe Coleman, also tweeted the details of her journey, "Just starting my journey #hometovote from Sweden. All I can think of is the 10-12 women who are nervously awaiting their bus/train/flight to get to their appointment. For women in a crisis, today is a day like no other. Time for care and compassion in Ireland. Time for change."
Unlike American elections, the Irish referendum does not allow absentee voting, which means voters have to be physically present in the country to have a say on whether or not its eighth amendment should be repealed. Because of that fact, voters have been using creative means take the costly trip back to Ireland for the vote. Canny, for instance, told Time that her grandmother crowdfunded among family and friends to help pay for the California-to-Ireland trip.
Another voter, Clíodhna Walsh, told Time that she her flight paid for by two donors within a pro-repeal organization.
“I’m really worried about the result," Walsh said. "I just don’t think I could ever live with myself if it didn’t go through and I hadn’t gone home. It’s going to be really close.”
Those in favor of the repealing the amendment argue that the law has not eliminated the occurrence of abortion, but rather made it unsafer, forcing women to travel aboard or use means not administered by health care professionals.
"Sending love, courage and energy to the tireless women and men campaigning to #RepealThe8th in the last three days before Ireland’s referendum on women’s choice," tweeted Sophie Walker, a British political activist. "For women to be equal they must have control over their own bodies. WE are with you, sisters."
Anti-abortion voters, meanwhile, are making a final push to encourage a "no" vote on Friday. "The closer we get to the referendum, the more we’re seeing an increase in ‘no’ supporters, particularly in the [age] 18-24 category," Katie Ascough, an anti-abortion advocate, told The Guardian. We shouldn’t assume anyone’s opinion on this issue."
A majority "yes" vote on Friday would lead to a bill that would legalize abortion up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, with a 72-hour waiting period, per The Irish Times.
Whether legal abortion become a reality for Ireland depends on the voters who show up on Friday, including the those making the long trips from abroad, so they can be #hometovote.