Catholic Ireland votes to legalise abortions in historic referendum

Irish Students Offered Grants to Fly Home and Vote ‘Yes’ to Abortion			PAUL FAITH  AFP  Getty		23 May 2018
Irish Students Offered Grants to Fly Home and Vote ‘Yes’ to Abortion PAUL FAITH AFP Getty 23 May 2018

28 May, 2018

In an apparent landslide, Ireland votes to overturn abortion ban.

The referendum result showed that many Irish voters agreed that women in those circumstances should be allowed a choice.

The final days of the campaign have seen voters on both sides of the debate voicing their opinion.

Official counting is set to begin in Ireland's historic abortion rights referendum, with two exit polls predicting an overwhelming victory for those seeking to end the country's strict ban. For opponents, it would be a betrayal of Ireland's commitment to protect the unborn.

The outcome is a new milestone on a path of change for a country which only legalized divorce by a razor thin majority in 1995 before becoming the first in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote three years ago. At Dublin Airport, waves of women arrived - many of them wearing "repeal" T-shirts and with "yes!" stickers on their luggage. He's been campaigning hard for repeal - a position he says reflects a dynamic, young, European outlook and a turning-away from the scandal-ridden Catholic Church.

Anti-abortion campaigners have described the decision of Irish voters as a "tragedy of historic proportions".

Several people refuse to talk about their vote at all - who are you to ask me about it? - heard in the click of the door closing. Thank you so much for making today possible. Almost 66.4 percent of voters supported the repeal, in contrast to the 33.6 percent who voted against the repeal. "How can I take the pressure off you so you don't feel so driven towards abortion?" she told AFP.

She tweeted: 'I'm flying home for not even 24 hours to vote for this.

It will be up to parliament to make new laws to govern abortions now that the public has turned thumbs down on the Eighth Amendment of the constitution.

Specifically, Democrats could mobilize voters around repealing the Hyde Amendment, which bars any federal funding for abortion except in extremely specific cases, like to save the life of the mother. That effectively bans all abortions in Ireland, except in cases when the woman's life is at risk.

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People opposed to the law had argued that it only adds pain and burden to pregnant women, as each year an estimated 3,000 pregnant women in Ireland secretly travel to neighbouring countries for abortion.

The prime minister said the large vote favoring repeal will give his government a greater mandate when drafting abortion legislation that will be submitted for parliamentary approval in a matter of months.

The "No" camp has seized on government plans to allow terminations with no restriction up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy if the referendum is carried, although that is not on the ballot paper.

If the 8th amendment is repealed, the Irish government would be allowed to legislate on abortion.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called the result the culmination of a "quiet revolution".

Setting out Labour's position, shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler said: "Fifty years ago, abortion was decriminalised under a Labour government but women in Northern Ireland are still denied this fundamental right, having to travel to mainland United Kingdom or faced with potential prosecution and imprisonment at home".

Thousands of Irish people overseas travelled home to take part in the historic referendum, and supporters of repeal gathered at Dublin Airport to give arrivals an ecstatic welcome.

"I'm very proud of her and I support her decision 100 per cent", he said.

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina cast their votes in Dublin on Friday morning. One concern that I heard several people express was that abortion would be used as contraception, an idea that seems to come from the misogynistic myth that the No campaign has helped to conjure, one where women can not be trusted and abortion is "on demand", as if it were a Netflix series.

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