Published: Sat, May 26, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Ireland abortion referendum: PM hails 'quiet revolution'

Ireland abortion referendum: PM hails 'quiet revolution'

"So many women have travelled across to England to take care of their family and healthcare needs and I think it's a disgrace and it needs to change", said "Yes" voter Sophie O'Gara, 28, referring to women who travel to Britain for abortions.

An exit poll released by The Irish Times points to 68% Yes to 32% for No. The referendum's passage is a huge win for reproductive-rights advocates in a Catholic country that for decades pledged to give women and fetuses an "equal right to life" and made abortion punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

The vote also is a key indicator of Ireland's trajectory, three years after the country voted to allow same-sex marriages and a year after its first openly gay prime minister took office. Irish women who want abortions now must to travel overseas to have them.

If the proposal to repeal the Eighth Amendment is defeated on Friday, the country will not have a second referendum and it could be another 35 years before voters have their say on the matter again, Varadkar said according to the Irish Times.

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.

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Abortion is still banned in some 20 countries worldwide, while others have highly restrictive laws in place.

Despite abortion already being illegal in Ireland under the Offences against the Person Act of 1861, pro-life activists wanted to ensure that the unborn were protected and lobbied the government for a referendum.

After the "Yes" vote is confirmed in official results, the eighth amendment of Ireland's constitution will be repealed. However, the new law did not satisfy all people, and people argued that it would still not make getting an abortion in Ireland any easier.

Theresa Sweeney, a repeal supporter, was one of the first to arrive at a church polling station in Dublin.

The Together For Yes organisation said: "This is a vote for dignity and decency".

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Michelle Sweeney holds a sign to support the reapeal of Ireland's Eighth Amendment.

Ted Harrington, a Catholic priest, casts his vote at a polling station Friday in Knock, Ireland. Savita Halappanavar has now become the face of the campaign in Ireland.

Ireland, which garnered much praises after electing a gay prime minister a year ago, continues to deny women the right to abort.

RTE's exit poll suggested 69.4 per cent in favour of the Yes side in the referendum and 30.6 per cent for "No". After that, the woman can have abortion if she still intends to terminate her pregnancy. It reached as high as 40 percent in some areas like Dublin, officials said.

The vote saw citizens effectively 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.

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However, in 2010, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that Ireland was violating the European Convention of Human Rights because the rules surrounding what is and isn't a legal abortion were blurred.

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