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Ireland overwhelmingly votes to end abortion ban

Ireland voted decisively to repeal its restrictive abortion ban that had been in place since 1983. The vote is considered a strong rebuke to the Roman Catholic Church.

“This is devastating for the Roman Catholic hierarchy,” said Gail McElroy, professor of politics at Trinity College Dublin. “It is the final nail in the coffin for them. They’re no longer the pillar of society, and their hopes of re-establishing themselves are gone.”

The measure passed with more than two-thirds of the vote.

The vote repeals the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. “It was the latest, and harshest, in a string of rejections of the church’s authority in recent years,” writes Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura in The New York Times.

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin said just 12 percent of voters cited religion as a factor in their decision, leading him to wonder, “What is the place of religion in Irish society and what is the place of the church in Irish society? We have to be ruthless in looking at the reality.”

Court: Arkansas abortion restrictions to stand

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to an Arkansas law that could force two of the state’s three abortion clinics to close.

The law concerns medication abortions, which use pills to induce abortions in the first nine weeks of pregnancy.

The law requires providers of the procedure to have contracts with doctors who have admitting privileges at a hospital in the state. Abortion clinics in Arkansas said they were unable to find any doctors willing to sign such contracts.

Planned Parenthood said it would for now stop providing medication abortions in the state.

“Arkansas is now shamefully responsible for being the first state to ban medication abortion,” Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president, told the New York Times. “This dangerous law immediately ends access to safe, legal abortion at all but one health center in the state.”

No reason was given for turning away the appeal. The case will continue in the lower courts.

Iowa bans most abortions after about 6 weeks

On May 4, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed one of the country’s most restrictive abortion bills into law.

The so-called “heartbeat” legislation bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat has been detected, at about six weeks of pregnancy. Exceptions are made in cases of rape, incest or medical emergency.

The legislation drew strong Republican support, but no Democrats voted for the bill.

“This unconstitutional bill is nothing but a thinly veiled attack on Iowa women’s most basic rights and freedoms — every woman deserves the fundamental right to make decisions about her own body with her doctor,” Democratic National Committee Women’s Media Director Elizabeth Renda said in a written statement.

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