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After Ireland Abortion Vote, Northern Irish Ask, ‘Why Not Us?’

In the June 2016 British referendum that narrowly approved withdrawal from the European Union, Scottish voters favored remaining in the bloc. If a referendum were held permitting voters in Northern Ireland to choose their own destiny on abortion, some pro-European Scots might argue, why should Scotland be denied a voice on Europe?

And Britons who oppose Brexit would feel emboldened in strengthening their calls for a second referendum on the future relationship with Europe.

There are still formidable forces lined up against abortion rights in Northern Ireland, where nearly 90 percent of the population self-identified as Christian in the 2011 census and where church groups retain considerable political influence.

After Ireland Abortion Vote, Northern Irish Ask, ‘Why Not Us?’
After Ireland Abortion Vote, Northern Irish Ask, ‘Why Not Us?’

While young people in Ireland overwhelmingly supported repealing the abortion ban in the referendum there, at least one young voice could be heard Monday in Belfast in opposition to abortion. “I think some people will use it as contraception,” said Courtney Miller, 19. “There’s still a human inside you.”

But mirroring the majority sentiment in the Irish vote were a mother and daughter in the city.

“I was delighted,” said Emma Hallissey, 50, of the Irish referendum. “My sister-in-law campaigned for the yes vote. The North has a lot to learn from the South.”

“There’s still that ingrained loyalty to politics that are not very forward thinking,” she added. “It’ll be a long time before people sort out their politics and become more liberal minded.”

Her daughter, Eabha, 11, then piped up, saying: “Why can the South have abortion rights but not the North? We’re on the same island but we’re split up.”

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