Thursday, 18 October, 2018

Abortion referendum: Ireland on brink of history as ‘No’ campaign concedes defeat

A woman places flowers by a mural showing Savita Halappanavar a 31-year-old Indian dentist who had sought and been denied an abortion before she died after a miscarriage in a Galway hospital with the word YES over it in Dublin Ireland on the day of Exit Poll Nearly 70 Percent of Irish Vote to Repeal 8th Amendment
Andrew Cummings | 27 May, 2018, 02:46

The referendum comes three months before a visit by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families.

It indicates about 72 percent of women voted "yes" along with about 66 percent of men.

Effectively, that means abortion is banned in Ireland unless the pregnancy poses a real and substantial risk to the mother's life.

The archbishop described the vote as a "watershed and historic moment" as people are asked for the first time in Ireland, by referendum, "to discuss the equality of all human life". It will also make it easier for the government to claim a mandate for more liberal laws when the divisive issue goes to parliament later this year.

Varadkar and Micheal Martin, leader of Ireland's other main party Fianna Fail, both support the legislation, meaning that it is widely expected to be approved. Varadkar's deputy, Simon Coveney, said the exit polls showed the result "was not a Dublin versus the rest" situation.

"The victory for the "Yes" campaign looks set to be neither narrow nor based on a few segments of Irish society".

Ireland's eighth amendment was adopted in a national referendum in 1983, and the difference between that result and this one suggests profound transformations of the once-solidly Catholic country over the last 35 years.

He called it "the final casting off of old mores". Voters had turned out in historic numbers. And state broadcaster RTÉ, in a separate survey, found Irish voters rejecting the 8th Amendment 69.4 percent to 30.6 percent.

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"We will hold the Taoiseach to his promise that repeal would only lead to abortion in very restrictive circumstances", she said.

Spokesman John McGuirk of the Save the 8th?group - which refers to the Eighth Amendment in the constitution that bans abortions - told Irish television Saturday that many Irish citizens will not recognize the country they are waking up in.

"For decades, Irish women have been forced to travel hundreds of miles to our clinics in England, often alone, at a huge personal and emotional cost", said Clare Murphy of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service.

A polling card marked "Yes" is seen, as vote counting begins, the day after the Abortion Referendum, on liberalising abortion laws in Dublin, Ireland May 26, 2018.

If the exit polls are confirmed, the referendum will also complete a circle of sweeping social reforms in the European Union nation that fly in the face of the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church, from contraception to divorce, and most recently gay marriage.

It acknowledged that "the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right". The 1983 amendment, which will now be removed from the Irish constitution, introduced a strict fetus termination policy viewed as an effective abortion ban.

Anyone terminating a pregnancy in Ireland now faces up to 14 years in jail.

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