Ireland votes down abortion law by wide margin

Irish anti-abortion campaign concedes it has lost referendum

An initiative to repeal Ireland's abortion law was overwhelmingly successful, results released Saturday indicate.

"The people have spoken". He said that majority reigned among both men and women, nearly all age groups and social classes, and perhaps every constituency in the country.

Varadkar, 39, was given a rock star welcome by cheering crowds packed into the castle forecourt to hear the final result of the referendum.

"What we have seen today is a culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years", he said.

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.

Ailbhe Smyth, a veteran campaigner and co-director of Together4Yes, the national pro-repeal group, is one of those women. And it has finally shown compassion and granted the right to self-determination to Irish women.

In 2015, Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the referendum result marked "the day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light".

The vote will have repercussions for women north of the border, as Northern Ireland has the strictest abortion laws in the UK.

Earlier, the No campaigners conceded defeat.

Credit PA
Credit PA

A woman casts her vote in the referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, in Dublin, Ireland, Friday.

Campaigning ahead of Friday's referendum was often divisive and there was concern over foreign influence on Ireland's vote after revelations of meddling in the USA election.

"I want to reassure you that Ireland today is the same country as it was last week", he said, "but just a little bit more tolerant, more open and more respectful". "That would be wrong". As a result, thousands of Irish women make the trip overseas, often to England, to have an abortion.

He ended his speech saying: "The wrenching pain of decades of mistreatment of Irish women can not be unlived". A subsequent amendment was added allowing Irish women and girls to seek abortions overseas, and about 170,000 of them done so since 1980, The Journal reported.

Katherine Zappone said Saturday she is confident new abortion legislation can be approved by parliament and put in place before the end of the year.

The declaration was made at at Dublin Castle at 6:13pm local time. Her parents in India were quoted by the Irish Times newspaper as thanking their " brothers and sisters" in Ireland and requesting the new law be called "Savita's law".

Between 12 and 24 weeks, abortion will be available only in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, a risk to a woman's life or a risk of serious harm to the health of the mother.

The magnitude of the predicted victory exceeded the expectations of abortion rights activists. The once conservative nation voted "yes" to repeal a constitutional ban on abortion.

The RTE exit poll of 3,779 voters predicts support for the "yes" vote in urban areas to be about 72 percent, with rural support at about 63 percent.

The poll also projected that about 66 percent of men and 72 percent of women supported the change. He acknowledged that he was an outlier in his age group, nodding to RTE polls that demonstrated voters 65 and over were the group with a majority vote for no.

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