The Eigth Amendment to the Irish Constitution held one of the strictest abortion bans in the world. Ireland's recent vote to repeal that amednment in a referendum has Catholics talking around the world, and in Rhode Island.
Dr. Tina Wray is a professor of Religious and Theological Studies at Salve Regina University in Newport, and her husband is originally from Cork, Ireland.
Wray said most of her Irish family and friends were against repealing the 8th amendment, and reactions on her social media feeds were mixed.
"Most people are really surprised that it went the way that it went, because it’s such a Catholic country, but they don’t realize the country is no longer under the shadow of the Catholic Church. People are thinking for themselves and voting their conscience," she said.
Assistant Professor of History at Providence College, Dr. Paul O’Malley, said the tide for abortion rights in Ireland has been rising since the early 90’s.
"In May 2018, there was no Mother Theresa figure to hold back the waters of legalized abortion, as there had been in 1983 when the 8th amendment was approved," O'Malley said.
O’Malley said it is now up to Ireland’s Parliament to define the terms of legalization.
Rhode Island Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin tweeted that the vote was no surprise, saying the Western world has, "lost its moral compass."
Dr. Tina Wray said whether you were for or against the vote, it started a conversation past abortion, to women's health overall.
"The discussion was not only on abortion, but the whole idea of social medicine where women had to wait," Wray said. "I've seen this in my own family where you make an appointment, it could be weeks or even months before you get in to see a doctor. So, the whole idea is it's not just about abortion. It's about taking care of women and other health issues that women have, and making that a priority."