Irish voters repeal constitution's ban on abortion: Exit polls

Posted May 27, 2018

An Irish Times exit poll of about 4,000 voters by Ipsos/MRBI shows that 68% voted "Yes" to repealing the Eighth Amendment, which guarantees a mother and her unborn fetus "an equal right to life".

A recent survey showed 56 percent of Irish voters said they were planning to vote "yes" to repeal the amendment, but the gap has steadily narrowed in recent weeks, perhaps due to a "no" campaign funded in part by American anti-abortion groups.

Ireland, one of Europe's most socially conservative countries, has voted by a landslide to liberalize the world's most restrictive abortion laws.

A decade after the Eighth Amendment was approved, women in Ireland were officially given the right to travel overseas, mostly to the United Kingdom, to obtain terminations. With a turnout of 53 per cent which amounted to 1.2 million people, almost 67 per cent voted Yes and over 33 per cent voted No.

A counting station
PAAn exit poll is a poll of voters taken as they leave polling stations

Local media outlet RTE says there was a 64.1 per cent turnout in the 40 different constituencies across Ireland.

He said, "I'm a staunch No".

While the official results of the referendum are not expected until later today, campaigners on the Yes side - calling to liberalise abortion laws - are beginning to tentatively celebrate a historic victory.

An exit poll by the newspaper said that about 69% of the people had voted to repeal the constitution's eighth amendment that effectively bans terminations.

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The prime minister, a medical doctor who came to power a year ago, spoke to RTE News in advance of the announcement of the referendum's official results, expected later Saturday.

Abortion is now only legal in Ireland in cases where the mother's life is at risk, and remains illegal in cases of rape, incest or fetal abnormality.

Abortion is now illegal in Ireland and has been since 1983 when an amendment was made requiring authorities to equally protect the right to life of a mother and that of a fetus, from the moment of conception.

While anti-abortion campaigner Cora Sherlock tweeted: "Exit polls, if accurate, paint a very sad state of affairs tonight". A year later the law was amended to allow abortions in cases when a woman's life is at risk-but didn't allow the procedure in cases of rape or incest or fetal abnormality.

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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.

"Today I believe we have voted for the next generation", said Varadkar, who supported repeal and said his government will move quickly to establish new legislation to govern legal abortions. "I'm especially grateful to the women of Ireland who came forward to provide their personal testimony about the hard times that they endured, the stress and the trauma that they experienced because of the eighth amendment". An Indian dentist, she died in 2012 at 31 in Galway, Ireland, after being denied an abortion while naturally miscarrying.

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