Anti-abortion group admits defeat in Irish vote

Pauline Gross
May 26, 2018

Ireland looks set to "make history" by liberalising some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said as votes in the hard-fought referendum were counted on Saturday. The consequent prohibition on abortion was partly lifted in 2013 for cases where the mother's life was in danger.

Official results are expected late Saturday afternoon.

"What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions", Save The 8th said.

It has the potential to be a huge day for Ireland should this referendum pass and the constitution is amended accordingly.

Some activists held a placard reading "Thank you for making the journey so other women don't have to" a reference to the way Irish women seeking abortions have had to leave the country to obtain them.

"That said, with a result of that magnitude, clearly there was very little to be done".

He added that the issue is so contentious because both sides believe they are defending human rights. Irish nationals from America, Australia, and Bangkok have hopped on trains, buses, and planes to make a difference.

A number of people used the opportunity to surprise friends and family back home. The build-up has seen heated campaigning in the Catholic country.

Members of the public hold "no" placards as the country heads to the polls, May 25, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

Some voters encountered trouble Friday attempting to return to Ireland to cast a ballot.

Participation was high in Dublin but also in large towns and rural areas across the country, and queues formed outside some polling stations when they opened at 0600 GMT.

A counting station
PAAn exit poll is a poll of voters taken as they leave polling stations

The Eighth Amendment, which was voted into the constitution by popular referendum in 1983, stated that the life of a pregnant woman was equal to that of an unborn child. The laws prohibit abortion while the foetus is live, even if there is a threat to the mother's life.

#RepealThe8th, promoted by those who are pro-choice (against abortion ban), has been used nearly 90,000 times on Instagram, and even more times on Twitter and Facebook.

Following a 2015 vote, Ireland legalized same-sex marriage.

With a margin of error of +/- 1.6%, 69.4% voted to repeal the Eight Amendment of the constitution while 30.6% voted No.

"If the referendum doesn't pass these women will continue to have to travel overseas in their thousands", Varadkar added. It would then fall to Parliament to establish new laws governing abortions.

Anyone terminating a pregnancy in Ireland could face 14 years in jail.

Why is this vote happening now?

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The government proposes to allow abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with later terminations allowed in some cases.

In 2017, the Irish government convened a Citizens Assembly to consider evidence on abortion law reform. The referendum was called earlier this year.

Andanappa Yalagi, father of Savita who died of sepsis in Galway in 2012 after being denied an abortion during a protracted miscarriage, told the media he was "very happy today".

What is the main argument to repeal it?

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