Ireland overwhelmingly votes to repeal abortion ban, exit polls project

How Tragic Death Of An Indian Woman Sparked History Making Vote In Ireland

How Tragic Death Of An Indian Woman Sparked History Making Vote In Ireland

John McGuirk, communications director for the "Save the 8th" campaign pushing a "No" vote, reacted to the exit poll on Twitter.

The people of Ireland are set to liberalise some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws by a landslide, two exit polls from a referendum showed on Friday, as voters demanded change in what two decades ago was one of Europe's most socially conservative countries.

An exit poll released by The Irish Times points to 68 percent Yes to 32 percent for No.

At the end of an emotional campaign, marked by stories of the pain and suffering caused by the abortion ban, many Irish women and men reported crying tears of joy at the apparent revelation that the repressive Ireland they had grown up in was, as one put it simply, "dead".

Catherine Murphy, co-leader of the small Social Democrats party, said the polls strongly indicate "voters have taken on board the clear message that the constitutional ban harms women" and must be removed from the constitution.

The referendum will decide whether the eighth amendment of the constitution is repealed or stays in place. "I am conscious that in 1983 there was only a turnout of 55%, most people made a decision to sit out and I hope that won't happen on this occasion and I am really encouraging everyone to come out and vote", he said.

It is an historic moment for a country long viewed as deeply religious and traditional.

The exit poll showed "an overwhelming desire for change that nobody has foreseen", wrote Irish Times deputy political editor Fiach Kelly.

#HomeToVote has connected donors with voters who are seeking funds for a ticket to the polling station in the hopes of "Yes" victory on Saturday morning.

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"I think life is sacred and for that reason I had to vote no". The polls are scheduled to close at 10 p.m. local time.

In 2012, Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old dentist living in Ireland, died after her request for an abortion was denied by a medical team, even though she was suffering a miscarriage, as her life was not deemed in danger.

She and her family all voted yes, but she is still nervous of the result.

At present Ireland's eighth amendment - which could be repealed in the vote - recognises the "right to life of the unborn" with an "equal right to life of the mother". Ireland has always been one of Europe's most socially conservative countries, and contraception was only fully legalized in 1985, while divorce was banned until 1995. This is despite the fact that a baby needs more protection, not less, than an adult; repeal would give the mother, or those "advising" her, the power of life and death over the baby. Prime minister Leo Varadkar, in favour of a change, has called the referendum a "once-in-a-generation" chance.

As per 1983 amendment, anyone terminating a pregnancy in Ireland could face 14 years in jail.

"Yes" campaigners argued that with over 3,000 women travelling to Britain each year for terminations - a right enshrined in a 1992 referendum - and others ordering pills illegally online, abortion is already a reality in Ireland.

After that, abortions will only be allowed until the 24th week of pregnancy if there is a risk to a woman's life, or a risk of serious harm to the physical or mental health of a woman.

If the amendment is removed and the issue moves to Parliament, the government proposes that terminations be allowed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

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