This week, the people of Ireland will take part in a historic vote. A referendum to repeal the constitution’s eighth amendment, and legalize abortion up to 12 weeks, will take place on May 25 after decades of debate.
Ireland's current law makes it illegal to end an unwanted pregnancy in virtually all circumstances. It's oppressive, draconian, and an infringement of women's reproductive rights. But even so, the referendum is proving incredibly divisive.
"In online and offline life, debate has been by turns fraught, highly personal and, occasionally, outright venomous," journalist Roisin Kiberd wrote for Refinery29 earlier this month.
Pop singer Ed Sheeran has now been drawn into the debate following reports that his song "Small Bump" is being played by pro-life campaigners in Dublin's city center.
"You're just a small bump unborn / In four months you're brought to life," Sheeran sings on the song from his 2011 album +."You might be left with my hair /But you'll have your mother's eyes / I'll hold your body in my hands, be as gentle as I can / But for now you're a scan of my unmade plans."
While the song is clearly a celebration of new life and future parenthood, Sheeran has spoken out to reassure fans that he certainly didn't write it as a pro-life anthem.
He wrote in a statement shared on his Instagram story: "I’ve been informed that my song "Small Bump" is being used to promote the pro-life campaign, and I feel it’s important to let you know I have not given approval for this use, and it does not reflect what the song is about."
The latest poll suggests that 44% of people intend to vote "yes" to legalize abortion in the referendum, while 32% intend to vote "no" and maintain the status quo. A hefty 17% of respondents to the poll by The Irish Times said they were still undecided.