Irish turn attention to parliament as abortion ban voted out

28 May, 2018, 17:14 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Ireland votes to repeal the 8th       39 out of 40 constituencies voted yes

History was made in Ireland on Friday, after the 66.4 percent voted to repeal the country's eighth amendment which put a ban on women's right to have an abortion.

Friday's vote repealed the Eighth Amendment to Ireland's Constitution, which was added in 1983 and granted equal rights to unborn fetuses and amounted to an nearly complete ban on abortions.

And as people waited for the vote be confirmed on Saturday evening, a giant and anxious crowd gathered outside Dublin Castle to hear the results.

Ireland, once seen as one of the most socially conservative countries in Western Europe, is poised to end its highly restrictive abortion ban.

Ireland's parliament will be charged with coming up with new abortion laws in the coming months.

Irish lawmakers are expected to bring up legislation allowing for abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and even later in cases where the life of the mother is at risk.

In what Prime Minister Leo Varadkar called the "culmination of a quiet revolution" over the past few decades, the "Yes" (on repeal) campaign won a landslide victory in a nationwide referendum.

"What we see is the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland over the last couple of decades", Varadkar, who became Ireland's first openly gay prime minister previous year, told journalists in Dublin. He now expects new abortion legislation to come into effect by the end of the year.

"For him, it's a different Ireland that we're moving onto", said Colm O'Riain, a 44-year-old teacher referring to his son Ruarai, born 14 weeks premature in November who was in his arms. It outlawed all abortions until 2014, when the procedure started being allowed in rare cases when a woman's life was in danger.

Purcell, who voted for the repeal, said he and his girlfriend spent about $750 to fly back for a few days to make sure they could cast votes. No more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea.

He campaigned for the change, which he said represented the compassionate choice for women forced to travel to England for terminations or taking unregulated abortion pills.

"I feel incredible moved, very proud to be Irish at the moment", she said from Japan.

"The public have spoken, the result appears to be resounding in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment, possibly to carry every constituency in the country", Varadkar said on Saturday.

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

And Westminster intervening in a devolved issue could also lead to wider concerns about the political situation in Northern Ireland.

Exit polls from the Irish Times and broadcaster RTE had suggested the Irish people have voted by almost 70 percent to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Together for Yes co-director Grainne Griffin said: 'In terms of Savita and her family I think our country owes them a great debt and we were so honoured and so touched by the support that they lent to the campaign over the course of it.

At the same time, any attempt to change the abortion law will be strongly opposed by the DUP, the Tories' allies at Westminster, whose members believe that the time has not come for such reforms in Northern Ireland.


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