Landslide support to repeal Ireland’s abortion ban

26 May, 2018, 06:57 | Author: Genevieve Gibbs
  • PA Wire  PA Images                   A woman lays flowers next to a mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin as Ireland went to the polls

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, made a fervent appeal to voters to lift the ban on abortion in the country and vote "Yes" in the referendum.

The referendum on whether to repeal the country's strict anti-abortion law is being seen by anti-abortion activists as a last-ditch stand against what they view as a European norm of abortion-on-demand, while for pro-abortion rights advocates, it is a fundamental moment for declaring an Irish woman's right to choose.

"I've come across families that are divided right down the middle. I'm very emotional about this", she said, outside a polling station opposite Dublin's cathedral.

Unlike in 1983, when religion was front and centre and abortion was a taboo subject for most people, the campaign was instead defined by women on both sides publicly describing their personal experiences of terminations.

"The No camp believes they are defending the right of the unborn child, the Yes camp believe they are defending the right of a woman to make often a very hard decision".

Nearly 70 percent voted Yes.

Voting has already taken place on Ireland's offshore islands.

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Only those away for less than 18 months are eligible to vote in the referendums, but this has still led to an overwhelming majority of people arriving home to make their voice heard.

Although not on the ballot paper, the "No" camp sought to seize on government plans to allow abortions with no restriction up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy if the referendum is carried, calling it a step too far for most voters.

Two exit polls - by broadcaster RTE and the Irish Times - suggested a landslide victory to repeal the amendment. The first indications of the final result are expected on Saturday, after the count begins at 08:00GMT.

The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution was installed following a 1983 referendum which approved outlawing abortion.

Polls opened across the country at 7am on Friday, with voters opting to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution - which prohibits terminations unless a mother's life is in danger.

Nearly 31 percent voted No. Not normally one for asking people to vote one way or another.

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Thousands of Irish citizens living overseas have travelled home in droves to exercise their democratic right on the emotive issue.

There have been a number of high-profile cases that have highlighted what critics say are problems with the current law.

Members of the public hold "no" placards as the country heads to the polls, May 25, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland. A "culturally liberal younger generation" of repealers who are "no longer in thrall to the local priest" are driving this change, suggesting that "those who would continue to restrict our rights are the self-same sanctimonious whited sepulchres gossiping in the pews who would cast the first aspersion at a pregnancy out of marriage". She found out she was pregnant; the doctors said "our hands are tied".

Who is opposed to the referendum?


Many have paid for flights for students studying overseas, and others on the ground are offering to collect people from airports and take them to polling booths. An estimated 32% said "No", according to the poll.

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