Ireland overturns abortion ban in landslide vote

Exit polls show that voters in Ireland might have just legalized abortion by a landslide

Varadkar said the Irish legislature will now move to repeal the Eighth Amendment and enact a new abortion law by the end of the year.

"In 1979, Americans United for Life played a pivotal role in the creation of the 8th Amendment, requiring the equal protection of unborn human life and the life of the mother and making Ireland one of the strongest pro-life nations in Europe", Catherine Glenn Foster, President of Americans United for Life said in a statement.

Official results are expected later today.

Independent TD Mattie McGrath, who advocated for a No vote, said the support for repeal was not evident to him on the doorsteps during the campaign.

Varadkar said the large margin of victory 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 campaign was largely backed by so-called pro-life groups - the most prominent being The Iona Institute, a socially conservative Roman Catholic advocacy group.

Ireland voted to repeal the eighth amendment to their constitution by a landslide Friday opening the path to legalizing abortion.

In the case of a fatal foetal abnormality an abortion can also be carried out. "They have said we need a modern constitution for a modern country", he said.

"This is a monumental day for women in Ireland", said Orla O'Connor, co-director of the Together for Yes group. "A lot of other Irish women have had to travel in the same way if they've had to go to the U.K.to access safe abortion".

The referendum will likely end the need for thousands of Irish women to travel overseas - mostly to neighboring Britain - for abortions they can't get at home.

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Conceding defeat, the "No" campaign said: "What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions ". There, approximately 1,000 women travel to England each year to have an abortion or buy abortion pills online.

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He said Irish voters "trust and respect women to make the right choices and decisions about their own health care".

Campaigners for change, wearing "Repeal" jumpers and "Yes" badges, gathered at count centres, many in tears and hugging each other.

"To do so would radically change the principle, for all unborn children and indeed for all of us, that the right to life is a fundamental human right", they said. Cheers erupted every time partial results were shown on two big screens transmitting the latest television news.

Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney said he believed a middle ground of around 40 percent of voters had decided en masse to allow women and doctors rather than lawmakers and lawyers to decide whether a termination was justified.

In parts of Dublin nearly 80% favoured liberalising restrictions on abortion in early pregnancy.

Katherine Zappone, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, said she is confident new abortion legislation can be approved by parliament and put in place before the end of the year.

She said she was ostracised by her friends and the Church when she got pregnant outside of marriage as a teenager 46 years ago.

Seeking or providing an abortion in Ireland is now a criminal offense that carries up to 14 years behind bars. The first constituency to declare - traditionally conservative Galway East - returned a 60 percent vote to repeal the abortion ban. "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".

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