More than two thirds vote to change Irish abortion laws - exit polls

Ireland’s Main Anti Abortion Campaign Concedes Defeat

By Steffanie Tan

"So many women have traveled across to England to take care of their family and healthcare needs and I think it's a disgrace and it needs to change", said "Yes" voter Sophie O'Gara, 28, referring to women who travel to Britain for abortions.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar accused campaigners opposing a referendum on liberalising Ireland's abortion regime of trying to dupe voters into thinking the government could still change the laws even if they voted "No".

Tara Flynn, who 11 years ago flew to the Netherlands for an abortion, said she planned to vote "yes" to make sure future generations of women don't endure what she did, with feelings of isolation and shame.

The vote Friday was to remove the constitutional amendment.

The Eighth Amendment, which was voted into the constitution by popular referendum in 1983, stated that the life of a pregnant woman was equal to that of an unborn child. "They have said we need a modern constitution for a modern country", he said.

Ms Butler said she is "reserving her position" on unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy but has come around to allowing terminations in case of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities.

The exit polls suggest that 77 percent of people in Dublin voted Yes - but so did 60 percent of people in the countryside.

In this May 17, 2018 photo, pro and anti-abortion posters were displayed on lampposts outside government buildings in Dublin, Ireland, ahead of the abortion referendum.

The Friday vote saw citizens effectively opt to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the country's Constitution, which prohibits terminations unless a mother's life is in danger.

Theresa Sweeney, a repeal supporter, was one of the first to arrive at a church polling station in Dublin.

"I took it really personally, this vote, and said I'm going to come out today and vote for what I believe in".

The UN Human Rights Committee has been calling for an end to Ireland's near-total abortion ban for long, but it was the case of an India-origin woman that sparked a rebellion.

The wording on the ballot paper was: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies". Still, it doesn't end the abortion issue in Ireland. Turnout was over 70 per cent in some areas, RTE said.

Since 2013, terminations have only been allowed in Ireland when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide.

Anyone terminating a pregnancy in Ireland now faces up to 14 years in jail.

With that in mind, members of the queer community have travelled from far and wide in the hope that no Irish woman will have to make a journey overseas to terminate a pregnancy ever again.

Among the youngest voters, 18-24-year-olds, the poll found that 87 percent of respondents voted to allow abortion. He notes that the 8th amendment under review is a declaration of equality of life between the life of a woman and her unborn child, "both lives being precious, in need of protection, love, and the support of society and its laws".

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