Irish Vote to Liberalize Abortion Law, Exit Poll Signals

The referendum on whether to repeal the country's strict anti-abortion law is being seen by anti-abortion activists as

The Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll suggested that voters in the once deeply Catholic nation had backed a referendum by a margin of 68 percent to 32 percent.

According to the poll, 77 per cent of voters in Dublin voted Yes, with 60 per cent of rural voters also backing change. Before polling booths closed, Leo Varadkar, the Irish prime minister, said he was quietly confident...

The RTE television and Irish Times exit polls are only predictions, with official tallies due Saturday afternoon, but both exit polls suggested an overwhelming victory for abortion rights activists seeking a "yes" vote to change the constitution.

The country's leaders support a "yes", an outcome that would repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment requiring authorities to treat a foetus and its mother as equals under the law.

If the referendum ultimately passes, Irish lawmakers are expected to enact legislation allowing for terminations in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy - and later in cases where there is a risk to the mother's life or the fetus is not expected to survive.

At the same time he admitted some people who might be viewed as conservative on this issue will vote to repeal the Eighth as a "screw you" to the Catholic Church.

If confirmed, the outcome will be the latest milestone on a path of change for a country which only legalised 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. The miscarriage took five days, and Halappanavar developed sepsis, which killed her. Halappanavar's death triggered massive protests and was one of many stories that helped push the conversation on the legalization of abortions.

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She said her vote would be one for solidarity and compassion, "a vote to say, I don't send you away anymore". The "X" case in 1992 involved a teenager who had been raped, who chose to travel to the U.K.to obtain an abortion - and found herself being stopped by the Attorney General from leaving the country.

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

Mr Varadkar, who called the referendum, was among the first to cast his ballot when polling stations opened. That meant, in practice, that abortion was strictly against the law.

"I think it's important that we protect the unborn babies, people don't care anymore about the dignity of human life".

In short - it looks likely Ireland will shortly be making abortion freely available to women.

Ireland does not give its expatriates absentee ballots or the option to vote in embassies.

With that in mind, members of the queer community have travelled from far and wide in the hope that no Irish woman will have to make a journey overseas to terminate a pregnancy ever again. Many posted photos of themselves wearing sweatshirts bearing the "Yes" side's "Repeal" slogan and friends shared videos of scores of voters being welcomed home at Irish airports. After a Supreme Court appeal, she was allowed to travel to the United Kingdom on the grounds that her life was in danger (since she was suicidal as a result of her situation).

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