Published: Sun, May 27, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly to Legalize Abortion

Ireland Votes Overwhelmingly to Legalize Abortion

The survey, conducted by the polling firm Ipsos/MRBI for the Irish Times, suggests that the "Yes" vote to repeal the eighth amendment will win by a fairly stunning margin of 68 to 32 percent, defying expectations of a closely divided electorate.

Ireland's parliament will be charged with coming up with new abortion laws in the coming months.

Marie O'Donnell votes in the historic referendum (Picture: PA) Lorraine Curtin and Petrina Conmee travelled all the way from Portugal to vote in the referendum.

Pollsters suggested the stories of women forced to travel to the United Kingdom for terminations or take illegal pills obtained on the internet helped sway public opinion.

Ireland's eighth amendment was adopted in a national referendum in 1983, and the difference between that result and this one suggests profound transformations of the once-solidly Catholic country over the last 35 years.

The official announcement is expected on Saturday evening local time, but initial results and exit polls pointed to a strong "Yes" vote after a heavy turnout that saw Irish citizens based in India and elsewhere travelling to the country to cast their vote in the intensely debated campaign.

But Irish campaigners against the changing of the constitution have said they will continue to debate the issue, despite what some have called a "sad day" for Ireland. More than 66 per cent of voters wanted an end to the ban.

If confirmed, the outcome will be the latest milestone on a path of change for a country which only legalized divorce by a razor thin majority in 1995 before becoming the first in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote three years ago. It would also likely end the need for thousands of Irish women to travel overseas - mostly to neighboring Britain - for abortions.

     REFERENDUM Ballot papers are handled as officials count votes in the Irish referendum
GETTY REFERENDUM Ballot papers are handled as officials count votes in the Irish referendum

The eighth amendment requires authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law, effectively banning abortions.

People over 65, however, voted 60 percent against overhauling the current legislation, which only allows terminations in cases where the mother's life is in danger.

"What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions", Save The 8th said. However, a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it...

Exit polls from the Irish Times and broadcaster RTE had suggested the Irish people have voted by almost 70 per cent to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

While the official result is not due until later on Saturday (overnight Sunday NZ), it appears Ireland is on the cusp of a defining moment in its social history.

The Together For Yes organisation said: "This is a vote for dignity and decency".

Left-wing Republican party leader Mary Lou McDonald celebrates the "Yes" campaign in Dublin as the results from the referendum begin to come in on Saturday.

"Today I believe we have voted for the next generation", said Varadkar, who supported repeal and said his government will move quickly to establish new legislation to govern legal abortions.

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