Ireland Court Hears Lawsuits Challenging Results of Referendum Legalizing Abortion

International   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jun 26, 2018   |   12:25PM   |   Dublin, Ireland

An Irish High Court justice began hearing a series of lawsuits Tuesday challenging the abortion referendum that repealed unborn babies’ constitutional rights.

The lawsuits allege voter fraud as well as misleading statements from government leaders and agencies in Ireland.

In May, Ireland voted to repeal its Eighth Amendment, which protected unborn babies’ right to life. Lawmakers currently are considering a proposal that would legalize abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks and up to six months for a wide variety of reasons.

The hearing before Mr Justice Peter Kelly began Tuesday with pro-life voter Charles Byrne arguing Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris “misled” voters about the referendum, according to the Irish Times.

He said they also “questioned the credibility of those who took a different view and were in favour of a ‘No’ vote.”

The Journal reports he argued the Referendum Commission also presented biased information to voters. Byrne said it “omitted objective statements” and did not provide “complete” impartial information about the vote.

Here’s more from the report:

Quoting a number of interviews, Byrne’s legal team told the High Court that Varadkar had written that “some women’s lives have been lost” and that the “Eighth Amendment has not saved lives, it has failed lives”.

He also took issue with Varadkar’s statement that if a ‘Yes’ vote didn’t prevail, women could face a 14-year jail term; and another statement which compared the UK laws on abortion with what the government’s draft legislation had provided for.

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He also claimed that the Minister for Health Simon Harris “wrongly claimed” that it was wrong to make an issue of Down Syndrome in the context of the legalisation of abortion.

He said the Referendum Commission failed to tell voters that a “Yes” vote would remove “all constitutional protection” from unborn babies.

As the Irish Times reports, Byrne also brought forward evidence of voter fraud. He said a sizable number of pro-life “No” voters were prevented from voting because they had been taken off the voter rolls. He also said two polling cards were issued to the same person, and a number of people who live permanently overseas came home to vote when they should not have been eligible.

Byrne also referred to volunteer tallies that suggest some polling stations had a more than 100-percent turnout, according to the report.

A second lawsuit involves Dublin resident Joanna Jordan who said the election result was fraudulent.

Jordan pointed to public polling data in the days leading up to the vote showing the “No” side closing ground and coming within a few percentage points of those who favored repealing the Eighth Amendment. She said it is unrealistic to believe that voters supported repeal by a two-to-one margin after the polling. She alleged that votes were not properly counted and vote tabulations were not conducted publicly.

The lawsuit also contends that thousands of Irish voters were paid to return to Ireland from other nations, including pro-abortion students who didn’t have proper voter registration.

The hearing continues this week.