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

Voting closes on Ireland abortion law referendum

Voting closes on Ireland abortion law referendum

The ballot paper does not mention the Eighth Amendment or abortion, instead asking: "Do you approve of the proposal to amend the Constitution contained in the undermentioned Bill?"

The referendum followed months of debate between "yes" and "no" campaigners on whether the Irish Constitution's Eighth Amendment - which gives the mother and fetus an "equal right to life" - should be scrapped. The country's deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, said, "Thank you to everybody who voted today - democracy can be so powerful on days like today - looks like a stunning result that will bring about a fundamental change for the better".

As Irish voters headed to the polls on Friday (May 25) to vote on a referendum that could rewrite the 8th amendment - which greatly restricts a woman's access to abortion - a number of prominent musicians and actors took to Twitter to urge support for the repeal.

Support for the repeal was felt most strongly among the youngest voters - the poll noted that 87 percent of those aged between 18-24 voted to repeal the constitutional ban.

Currently, 78 percent of the Irish population is Catholic, and members of the church are hoping their members will vote "no".

Thousands of people living overseas returned home to vote.

Voters went to the polls after a campaign that aroused deep emotions on both sides. Votes are expected to be counted on Saturday morning, with an official result to be declared later that day.

The amendment requires authorities to equally protect the right to life of a mother and that of a foetus, from the moment of conception.

A counting station
PAAn exit poll is a poll of voters taken as they leave polling stations

Nevertheless, given the extent to which he has thrown his weight behind "yes", many observers regard this vote as a referendum partly on the popularity of his still-young tenure as premier. About 1.2 million people vote.

Opponents have come out against legalizing abortion, with some pressing a vote "NO" campaign across Ireland.

Campaigning by pro- and anti-abortion groups has ramped up in recent weeks, dominating the news cycle in Ireland.

Two referendums took place in 1992, allowing women to travel to have an abortion, and another one authorising information about abortion services overseas.

Seeking or providing an abortion in Ireland was a criminal offense that carries up to 14 years behind bars.

"I would ask those people 30 years after that amendment was put into our constitution, why has nobody put forward an alternative that would deal with all these hard cases?"

The government proposes to allow abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with later terminations allowed in some cases. Irish women who want abortions now must to travel overseas to have them. That meant, in practice, that abortion was strictly against the law.

The 99 randomly selected citizens, after hearing extensive evidence, voted in favour (64 percent) of having no restrictions on termination in early pregnancy.

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