Irish abortion referendum: Exit polls suggest landslide for repeal

26 May, 2018, 16:45 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Irish Church urges voters to reject abortion and protect life

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

The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution was installed following a 1983 referendum which approved outlawing abortion.

On Friday, Ireland made history when the country voted to repeal its constitution's Eighth Amendment, one of the strictest abortion laws in Europe. It would then fall to Parliament to establish new laws governing abortions. "We've done it", said Kevin Humphries, a former junior minister who campaigned for more access to abortion.

Conceding defeat, the "No" campaign said: "What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions". Savita Halappanavar has now become the face of the campaign in Ireland.

The referendum comes three months before a visit by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families (WMF) and three years after Ireland voted to legalise same-sex marriage despite the Church's opposition.

Between 12 and 24 weeks, abortion will be available only in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, a risk to a woman's life or a risk of serious harm to the health of the mother.

The newspaper exit poll indicated overwhelming support for change.


Another by the Irish Times, 68 per cent voted in favour of ditching the prohibition. After that, Irish voters passed a constitutional amendment that left the abortion ban intact but recognized a woman's right to travel outside the country for an abortion. "I hope Ireland will not make the same mistake today", John McGuirk, a prominent Irish abortion rights opponent, said.

People arriving at polling stations from the early morning spoke about the momentousness of a complex decision that in many cases pitted moral against religious beliefs.

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. The poll has a margin of error of 1.6 per cent. He notes that the 8th amendment under review is a declaration of equality of life between the life of a woman and her unborn child, "both lives being precious, in need of protection, love, and the support of society and its laws".

Emma Leahy said her "yes" vote comes from her firm belief that everyone should be able to make their own choice when it comes to abortion.

A "yes" vote, meanwhile, would ease the way for Irish lawmakers to pass legislation allowing abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in cases that could endanger the mother's life.

No social issue has divided Ireland's 4.8 million people as sharply as abortion, which was pushed up the political agenda by the death in 2012 of a 31-year-old Indian immigrant from a septic miscarriage after she was refused a termination.

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.

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