Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Ireland overwhelmingly votes to repeal abortion ban, exit polls project

Ireland overwhelmingly votes to repeal abortion ban, exit polls project

The referendum Friday will decide whether the eighth amendment of the constitution is repealed, which would open the way for more liberal legislation.

The referendum is one of the most anticipated, and controversial, in the heavily Catholic nation's history, as it could roll back rules that now only allow abortion in the case of a woman's life being at risk, but not for rape, incest or fatal fetal abnormality.

As a result, thousands of Irish women make the trip overseas, often to England, to have an abortion.

If the Yes vote wins, the text of the Eighth Amendment will be changed to read: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies".

Later today, the Republic of Ireland will hold a historic referendum on abortion rights that might finally pave the way for abortion to be decriminalised. "How can I take the pressure off you so you don't feel so driven towards abortion?" she told AFP news agency.

A breakdown of the poll suggested young people had overwhelmingly vote for "Yes".

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Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who backs the reform, said he was hopeful that the ban would be abolished as he voted in Dublin. Vote-counting begins at 0800 GMT on Saturday, with the first indication of results expected mid-morning.

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"If we don't remove the Amendment from the constitution our doctors and lawmakers can't do anything for women", he said.

But exit polls showed that rural areas also voted in favor of legalizing abortion by 60%, a far greater margin than either side anticipated. "It's a vote as to whether we trust the women of Ireland to make decisions about their own lives for themselves". Ciara Grealy, 21, from Dublin, said: "I don't know see we should export women to another country to have something that should be done safely and legally here".

Yet the Irish Times exit poll showed overwhelming majorities in all age groups under 65 voted for change, including nearly nine in every 10 voters under the age of 24.

"Yes" campaigners like Coveney have argued that with over 3,000 women travelling to Britain each year for terminations and others ordering pills illegally online, abortion is already a reality in Ireland.

The singer, 38, took to Instagram on Thursday to post a picture of a badge released as part of the pro-choice campaign, captioning the shot: "IRELAND: #repealthe8th #togetherforyes". Ahead of the vote, women have come forward to share their stories about unplanned pregnancies and their limited options for medical in their country. The government proposes that terminations be allowed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. This is despite the fact that a baby needs more protection, not less, than an adult; repeal would give the mother, or those "advising" her, the power of life and death over the baby. "Please please vote Yes this Friday".

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.

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