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After historic vote, Ireland poised to end abortion ban

27 May 2018

A leading campaigner for repealing Ireland's constitutional ban on abortions says it's a "monumental day for women in Ireland" after voters appeared to have overwhelmingly backed liberalizing the country's strict abortion laws. The strongest backing came from younger voters - the exit poll said the only age group in which a majority voted "no" were voters who are 65 or older.

"The public have spoken".

Campaigners who have fought for more than three decades to remove the Eighth Amendment abortion ban from Ireland's Constitution hailed the referendum vote as a major breakthrough for the largely Catholic nation.

"What we see is the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland over the last couple of decades", said Mr Varadkar, who became Ireland's first openly gay Prime Minister past year.

One poll by RTÉ suggested nearly 70% of the electorate have voted to end the constitution's all but blanket ban on terminations, with another, by The Irish Times, recording 68% in favour of reform. Pro-choice supporters argued that the clause restricted adequate healthcare and women's autonomy over their own bodies while forcing Irish citizens to seek medical care in countries like the United Kingdom, where abortion is legal.

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"What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions", the Save The 8th group said.

Under the law, fetuses in early pregnancy are guaranteed citizenship status and women who have an illegal abortion could face up to 14 years in prison.

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.

The question on the ballot asked citizens to opt to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the state's constitution, which prohibits terminations unless a mother's life is in danger. "A sigh of relief that the Ireland we always thought we had, has now been recognised". However, a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it...

The country's largest newspaper, the Irish Independent described the result as "a massive moment in Ireland's social history".

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In addition to this, the case of Savita Halappanavar also sparked debate around Ireland and the world watched as the Galway dentist died following complications from a septic miscarriage, after she was denied an abortion.

Varadkar had supported repeal and said his government will move quickly to establish new legislation to govern legal abortions.

However, the referendum was also held against the backdrop of a proposed law to introduce unrestricted abortion upto 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The campaign additionally noted that they would continue fighting for the right to life in Ireland, saying that "every time an unborn child has his or her life ended in Ireland, we will oppose that, and make our voices known".

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After historic vote, Ireland poised to end abortion ban