Irish abortion referendum: official results show big lead for yes – live

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Readers in Northern Ireland have been contacting the Guardian urging abortion reform there. Aoibhinn, who’s studying for A levels in Belfast, says she’s relieved about the result in Ireland but feels “isolated” as a young women in Northern Ireland:

We are now poised to be the only place within these islands without access to abortion. I hope with all my heart that the forces that campaigned to repeal the 8th will now lend us a hand in dragging our laws into the 21st century.

Pete Doughty, a civil servant from Belfast, would like to see legislation change too:

Abortion is never, ever an easy option to choose … I’ve seen friends of mine here in Northern Ireland having to take that decision – and then having to travel, alone, stressed, in comparative secrecy, and at great expense, to England and back, at the expense of their dignity and peace of mind.

Women in Northern Ireland have always been under the same pressure as Irish woman, but after this result they will now, tragically, stand alone. That can’t be allowed to continue.

Westminster must now step in and give Northern Irish women the right to be believed and trusted that our socially conservative politicians will always wish to deny them.

If you’d like to share your reaction, you can do so here.

Henry McDonald sounds a note of caution about abortion reform coming any time soon to Northern Ireland:

It is not as simple as Theresa May and the British government deciding to impose or extend the 1967 Abortion Act to the region – the only part of the UK where terminations in most cases are illegal in local hospitals.

Devolution is currently in suspended animation in a traditional orange-green row over an Irish Language Act and other cultural issues and even if the Northern Ireland assembly was restored, a majority of members oppose abortion reform especially on the unionist benches.

Pro-abortion reform parliamentarians at Westminster such as Stella Creasy could move a private member’s bill in this hiatus period of de facto direct rule from London. But when this was tried recently by another Labour MP for gay marriage equality (another social reform blocked principally by the DUP), backbench Tories refused to cooperate and the private bill fell by the wayside.

It is hard to see too how May’s minority Conservative government would agree to a free vote on introducing abortion into Northern Ireland given the power the DUP exercises at Westminster where its votes keep her in No 10 Downing Street.

The DUP would be highly likely to exert its parliamentary muscle to pressurise the Tories not to back any Labour sponsored private member’s bill when it came to the abortion question. The abortion controversy on the island of Ireland will rage on, albeit only now on the northern side of the Irish border.

Some readers who’ve got in touch with the Guardian have described how difficult the referendum campaign has been because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Michelle, a writer and mother of two young boys who lives in Dublin, says she was one of the “silent” yes voters:

I was one of those women, partly because of the very conservative workplace that I am employed in of but also because I did not want to offend no voters, who did not discuss my opinions. Why, I wonder now, did I not feel comfortable to speak out, to be honest, to loudly shout how passionately I felt about the need for yes? Because I grew up in an Ireland that diminished the rights of women, punished women for being unmarried mothers and in some cases incarcerated those women and removed their children from them.

When she heard the result, Michelle said:

I felt like a weight had lifted, that shame and stigma surrounding so many women in my own family had been wiped away. It was acceptable at last for a woman to make her own decisions and live her life without judgment.

Kate, a scientist and mother living in rural Ireland, said she voted yes, but reluctantly:

Yes is the right decision but discussion needs to continue regarding support for women in Ireland. We need to examine our society at a deeper level and have more discussion about factors such as contraception, social housing … mental health. Abortion is the last resort for women. I would like to see both sides working together now to make family life better in this country and abortion as rare as possible.

If you’d like to share your reaction, you can do so here.

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