Voters in Ireland headed to the polls on Friday to decide whether the country should repeal its restrictive abortion laws. Among those casting their ballots were thousands of Irish citizens living in other parts of the world who traveled back to Ireland for the landmark vote.
They chronicled their journeys on social media using the hashtag #HomeToVote, sharing thousands of powerful and poignant stories.
Most of those using the hashtag were planning to vote “yes” to repeal the eighth amendment ― Ireland’s near-total ban on abortion that only makes exceptions to save the life of the mother.
Some people covered relatively short distances from England, Scotland and parts of Europe, while others crossed oceans and continents to journey from places like Los Angeles, Tokyo and Sao Paulo.
Look at the amazing footage from Dublin Airport last night of the #HometoVote people returning. This vote can change Ireland into a more caring, compassionate place #together2vote#Together4Yespic.twitter.com/06Aj7QM8uc— Together for Yes (@Together4yes) May 25, 2018
Just started the first leg of my journey #hometovote. Taking a night bus to Tokyo, where I will fly out tomorrow afternoon. Hopefully, I can find something fun to do while eagerly awaiting my chance to help #RepealTheEighth on Friday. pic.twitter.com/DpDeZziKzv— Matthew Corbally (@Corballicious) May 22, 2018
The eighth amendment has been in place since 1983, granting fetuses and pregnant women the same rights. The campaign to repeal the amendment has been ongoing since its inception. This latest effort came about after 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar died from a septic miscarriage in 2012 after being denied an abortion at a Galway hospital.
As Ireland goes #hometovote to #RepealThe8th today, please remember Savita Halappanavar who died of sepsis after being denied an abortion for a pregnancy even after doctors said miscarriage was inevitable. Her death was a catalyst for this referendum. She was 31. pic.twitter.com/EcZm95xrEl— Charlotte Morabito (@MorabitoCM) May 25, 2018
A recent survey showed 56 percent of Irish voters said they were planning to vote “yes” to repeal the amendment, but the gap has steadily narrowed in recent weeks, perhaps due to a “no” campaign funded in part by American anti-abortion groups.
Some of those traveling back to Ireland to vote “yes” recalled undertaking trips in the other direction to seek reproductive services in other countries.
“All the #hometovote celebrating feels like a response to all the silent, secret journeys that went the other way,” one Twitter user wrote.
#hometovote Madeira ️ Dublin. What an emotional feeling it is to be travelling home on the eve of Irish history - armed with a vote, a voice I did not have at age 19 when I had to travel to a clinic overseas. Let's do this Ireland 🖤 #togetherforyes#repealthe8th#homeforyespic.twitter.com/FSrulHfvrk— Bawdy Fox (@bawdyfox) May 24, 2018
Travelling home from the very airport I found myself in nearly 9yrs ago on a very sad journey. I’m hopeful this is not going to be a sad journey and compassion and sense will prevail #together4yes#hometovote@TFMRIRE— Ruth Bowie (@rlbowie) May 24, 2018
All the #hometovote celebrating feels like a response to all the silent, secret journeys that went the other way. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the silence is broken.— Jane Casey (@JaneCaseyAuthor) May 24, 2018
Some people tweeted donation offers to pay for flights, while others said they had received help from complete strangers so they could travel home. Many also offered travelers free transport from the airport.
Just landed in Dublin and picked up my rental car. If you or anyone you know needs a lift to a polling station hit me up. I can't promise I can get to everyone but I'll do my best. #liftsforrepeal#togetherforyes#repealthe8th#hometovote#votermotor#motorvoterpic.twitter.com/qNs9ocEaB1— Mark O' Brien (@oaksmokeandbbq) May 25, 2018
A number of people used the opportunity to surprise friends and family back home.
My dad sent my sister a text this week saying he will vote on her behalf since she can't get home to vote.— Avril Hayden (@AvvyEire) May 24, 2018
Little do either of my parents know I'm sitting in the airport waiting for her flight to arrive. #hometovote#Mna4Ta#Together4Yes#men4yes#Repealthe8th
As of midday on Friday, the voter turnout was higher than it was at the same time period during Ireland’s same-sex marriage referendum and its most recent general election, BBC reported. The polls are scheduled to close at 10 p.m. local time.
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.