Published: Mon, May 28, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Ireland Repeals Anti-Abortion Amendment in Landmark Vote for Reproductive Justice

Ireland Repeals Anti-Abortion Amendment in Landmark Vote for Reproductive Justice

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar praised the historical vote as a "culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years".

"It's incredible. For all the years and years and years, we've been trying to look after women and not been able to look after women, this means everything", said Mary Higgins, obstetrician and Together For Yes campaigner.

"We are waking up to an Ireland where the Irish public have supported a woman's right to choose and a woman's right to make decisions in relation to her pregnancy".

Katherine Zappone said Saturday she is confident new abortion legislation can be approved by parliament and put in place before the end of the year.

Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the health select committee and a lawmaker in May's party, said she would support the proposed amendment and said Northern Ireland should at least be given a vote to decide.

The group, in a statement on its website, said the voters had committed "a tragedy of historic proportions".

John McGuirk, spokesman for the Save the 8th group, told Irish television Saturday that many Irish citizens will not recognize the country they are waking up in.

Another said: "I'm so deeply sorry that you had to suffer". The referendum states that abortions should only be performed when the mother's life is in immediate danger, as fetuses have an "equal" right to life. The Eighth Amendment was passed in Ireland in 1983, with upwards of 67 percent voter-approval.

Exit polls also showed that nearly every age group backed repeal with the highest percentage of support coming from voters aged 18 to 24 who voted 88 per cent in favor of dropping the constitutional ban.

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The official announcement is expected on Saturday evening local time, but initial results and exit polls pointed to a strong "Yes" vote after a heavy turnout that saw Irish citizens based in India and elsewhere travelling to the country to cast their vote in the intensely debated campaign.

Sinn Féin policy was in favour of repeal, but only to allow for abortion in cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormalities and where the health of the mother is at risk. "A lot of other Irish women have had to travel in the same way if they've had to go to the access safe abortion".

One says: "Sorry we were too late but we are here now".

Art director Aoife Murray, 27, who voted in Dublin, said the exit poll left her in tears of relief.

It isn't yet clear what strategy abortion opponents will use in parliament in light of the unexpectedly large vote in favour of repeal.

Ireland has voted by a landslide to liberalise some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws.

It indicated that about 72 percent of women voted "yes" along with about 66 percent of men. Are Britons less forward-thinking, less concerned with the evidence about abortion safety, than TDs in the Republic of Ireland? The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 1.6 percent.

"The position in Northern Ireland is now highly anomalous and I think, probably, action will now have to be taken", Cable said.

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