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

Minnie Murray
May 28, 2018

Archbishop Eamon Martin, the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, has said he will give thanks in prayer to the "courageous" people who took part in the No campaign in the referendum.

With exit polls showing a win for abortion rights campaigners, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called the apparent victory the "culmination of a quiet revolution".

Messages are left at a memorial to Savita Halappanavar a day after an Abortion Referendum to liberalise abortion laws was passed by popular vote, in Dublin, Ireland May 27, 2018. "This is about women taking their rightful place in Irish society, finally".

Mr Wells called on Northern Ireland's anti-abortion movement to "redouble its efforts" to prevent any change of the law there.

The specific question people were asked was whether they wanted to see the Eighth Amendment replaced with wording in the constitution that would hand politicians the responsibility to set future laws on abortion, unhindered by constitutional strictures.

Co-director Orla O'Connor said: 'I certainly think that all of our TDs and senators should really consider a special sitting so that it can be progressed through the summer.

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.

He said it will be remembered as "the day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light. That would be wrong".

All but one of Ireland's 40 constituencies voted "Yes" and contributed to the 66 percent that carried the proposal, nearly an exact reversal of the 1983 referendum result that inserted the ban into the constitution.

Frank Gaynor, a 75-year-old retiree, said after the Mass that he never imagined the vote in favour of abortion rights would be so lopsided.

Many went online to share their flight itineraries, and some tweeted photos taken with like-minded voters at airports - most wearing the "Repeal" sweatshirts that became the symbol of the prevailing sentiment.

"This has been a great exercise in democracy and the people have spoken and the people have said: We want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the rights choices about their own health care", Varadkar said on Saturday.

She said she was forced to stop telling the uncomfortable truth after struggling with people's responses. "Now more than ever it is time for the United Kingdom government to show the same respect for the women of Northern Ireland".

Labour's Stella Creasy claimed more than 140 parliamentarians had already signalled support for an effort to change the law in Northern Ireland. Savita's husband settled with the state-run hospital out of court for a sum running into six figures, and the abortion laws were amended in 2013 to allow termination of pregnancies in extreme cases where the woman's life is in danger.

The magnitude of the predicted victory exceeded the expectations of abortion rights activists. Surprisingly, they also suggest that supporters of more liberal abortion laws may have triumphed throughout the country, not just in the cosmopolitan capital, Dublin, where a strong youth vote had been anticipated.

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