Ireland overturns abortion ban in landslide vote

Irish anti-abortion campaign concedes it has lost referendum

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar also welcomed the referendum.

He said he wrestled with the topic, but that women who told their stories had a big impact on him, especially those who had suffered rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities. The size of the win exceeded expectations and will make it much easier for Irish women to obtain abortions legally for the first time.

The referendum saw 706,349 people vote to change the law.

It is such a resounding victory that campaigners in Ireland are weeping with joy.

She said she was ostracised by her friends and the Church when she got pregnant outside of marriage as a teenager 46 years ago.

"What we see is the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland over the last couple of decades", Varadkar, who became Ireland's first openly gay prime minister past year, told journalists in Dublin.

Credit PA
Credit PA

"The wrenching pain of decades of mistreatment of Irish women can not be unlived", Varadkar, who backed repeal, said.

He said there appears to be "a greater than 2-to-1 majority in favor of amending our constitution". "And we say that we trust women and we respect women and their decisions".

"It must not be forgotten that us women in Northern Ireland are still persecuted by a Victorian-era abortion ban", Grainne Teggart, Northern Ireland campaign manager for Amnesty International said in a statement on Saturday.

Ireland voted to repeal the eighth amendment to their constitution by a landslide Friday opening the path to legalizing abortion.

Ailbhe Smyth, co-director of the pro-repeal umbrella group Together for yes, greets supporters at the count in Dublin on Saturday.

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

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The leader of the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland, Naomi Long, responded to Ms Mordaunt by saying she could "effect change" in Northern Ireland and should use her "influence with others to ensure this happens".

Varadkar said he'd like to pass legislation for a new abortion law by the end of the year, according to The Guardian.

Education minister Anne Milton suggested she would back liberalisation if there was free vote, telling ITV's Peston on Sunday that the current situation "does feel anomalous".

I was too young in 1983 to vote in the first referendum that led Ireland to change its Constitution, adding what is known as the eighth amendment, banning abortion in nearly all circumstances, even though it had already been criminalized in the country for over a century. The laws prohibit abortion while the foetus is live, even if there is a threat to the mother's life.

Abortions are only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health. "The exciting thing now is that for the women that this has affected, the guilt and shame can slowly be lifted (and) they can begin to heal knowing that the country is behind them and supports them".

Earlier Saturday, a leading anti-abortion group called the vote a "tragedy of historic proportions" as it conceded defeat.

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The official vote tally for Friday's vote has not been finished but exit polls predict a massive victory for repealing the constitutional ban.

Scores of other abortion rights activists gathered across Dublin throughout the day.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on legislation providing for terminations in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy - and later in cases where there is a risk to the mother's life or the fetus is not expected to survive by the end of the year.

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.

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