First Irish referendum results show 66% voted to end abortion ban

Saul Bowman
May 27, 2018

Varadkar's deputy, Simon Coveney, said the exit polls showed the result "was not a Dublin versus the rest" situation.

According to an exit poll conducted by the Irish Times/IPSOS MRBI, some 68 percent of Irish voters in Friday's referendum supported repealing the Eighth Amendment to the country's constitution, which effectively bans abortions in Ireland.

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald, whose party campaigned in favour of a Yes vote, said: "We have, without doubt, done right by Irish women for this generation and many to come".

The official counting of ballots will take place during the day on Saturday, with results expected to be announced Saturday night Dublin time.

"The public have spoken".

In an interview with RTE, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has hailed Ireland's "quiet revolution" as the early results are pointing towards to a resounding vote for changing Ireland's constitutional framework on abortion.

Mr Varadkar said the results represented "the culmination of a quiet revolution", one that had been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 to 20 years.

The outcome was a historic victory for women's rights in a traditionally Catholic country.

"For him (his son), it's a different Ireland that we're moving onto".

While anti-abortion campaigner Cora Sherlock tweeted: "Exit polls, if accurate, paint a very sad state of affairs tonight".

"What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions", the Save The 8th group said.

Support came not only from major cities like Dublin but rural areas.

Irish law now recognises equal rights to life for a mother and for an unborn child, making abortion illegal except in cases where the woman's life is at risk.

The effective prohibition on abortion in Ireland was partially lifted in 2013 for cases when a mother's life was in danger.

The country's largest newspaper, the Irish Independent described the result as "a massive moment in Ireland's social history".

For decades, the law forced more than 3000 women to travel to Britain each year for terminations and "Yes" campaigners argued that with others now ordering pills illegally online, abortion was already a reality in Ireland. But in 2012, a woman named Savita Halappanavar died in an Irish hospital after she was denied an abortion.

Two polls on behalf of national broadcaster RTE and the Irish Times suggest a landslide victory for those campaigning to liberalise the law and open up access to abortion.

He said the Supreme Court has warned that "removal of this protection will leave the unborn child with no constitutional rights, which is a huge step". Today's vote will test how Ireland weighs women's lives against the rules of the church.

Save The 8th spokesman McGuirk appealed for tolerance and respect from "those who find themselves in the majority now".

Emotions ran high - and so, too, did celebrations.

Ireland's government will be posed to consider legislation that would permit abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Government-transparency group Transparent Referendum Initiative and UK-based news org openDemocracy also exposed a slew of Facebook ads run in Ireland, purchased by non-Irish accounts.

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