Three decades ago, Ireland was a very different place. Divorce was illegal, as was same-sex marriage. Abortion, already illegal in practice, was constitutionally banned in a 1983 referendum – known as the Eighth Amendment.
On Saturday Ireland emphatically voted to repeal that constitutional amendment in a referendum, paving the way for legalized abortion.
“If you look at 1983, when the anti-abortion clause was put into the constitution, to now, the change is just extraordinary,” said Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole.
He said the diminishing influence of the Catholic church, along with the urbanization of a rural society, improved access to higher education, and an increasingly vocal women’s movement, had all contributed to a shift in perceptions.
Saturday’s referendum is the latest in a series of recent liberalizations in Ireland, which last year elected its first gay and biracial Prime Minister, or Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
“Thirty years ago if you had said there was any possibility the prime minister would be gay or from a biracial background, people probably would have found that just impossible to imagine,” O’Toole said.
“And now it’s not just possible to imagine, it’s almost uninteresting, it’s just taken for granted.”
Here’s a look at some of Ireland’s legislation in recent years: