In advance of an upcoming Irish referendum on abortion legal, more than 100,000 people in the country have registered to vote.
Up to 125,000 Irish citizens have registered to vote between February and early May, and will be able vote in the Eighth Amendment referendum, according to The Irish Mirror.
The surge in voter registration has been reported by the National Youth Council of Ireland, a coalition of Irish youth organizations. James Doorley, NYCI deputy director, said many of the newly-registered voters are young adults.
On May 25, voters will consider a referendum that would repeal the Irish Constitution’s eighth amendment, which prohibits abortion. Under current law, the practice of abortion in Ireland is illegal, unless the mother’s health is deemed to be endangered. Pro-life Irish citizens are encouraging a “no” vote on the referendum.
The eighth amendment was passed in Ireland in 1983, with upwards of 67 percent voter-approval. It reads, in part: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
If the referendum is passed, pregnancies could be legally terminated in Ireland in the first 12 weeks.
Last year, a Sunday Times poll reported that 37% of 18- to 34-year-olds supported allowing abortion with no restrictions, compared to 31% of 35- to 54-year-olds.
Polling in February showed growing opposition to increasing abortion access in the country. A Sunday Times “Behavior and Attitudes” poll showed that support for abortions beyond three-months gestation fell from 51 percent to 43 percent, while opposition to changing the country’s abortion laws rose from 27 percent to 35 percent.
As the vote is only days away, Ireland's clergy and church leaders have asked the world for prayers. Father Marius O'Reilly appealed to Christians on YouTube on May 10.
"I'm making an appeal to you today - please come to our assistance. Pray the rosary for Ireland. Please have Masses offered for Ireland," he said.
O'Reilly pointed out that other countries have legalized abortion through legislation or court decisions, but "Ireland would be the first country in the world where the people would legalize abortion."
“We can’t allow that to happen. And so I’m making an appeal to you today - please come to our assistance. Pray the rosary for Ireland. Please have Masses offered for Ireland,” he said.