Ireland referendum could lift strict ban on abortion

26 May, 2018, 10:58 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • PA Wire  PA Images                   A woman lays flowers next to a mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin as Ireland went to the polls

At the time of reporting, exit polls show that a staggering 69 percent of people voted in favour of repealing the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, paving the way for the legalisation of abortion.

Al Jazeera's Neave Barker, reporting from Ireland, said the vote had split Irish society between those in favour of repealing the abortion ban and those who wish to see it maintained.

Ironically, due to Ireland being one of the few European Union countries that doesn't allow people overseas to vote via post or in embassies, thousands of Irish people living overseas have had to travel from across the world purely to cast their vote. According to several exit polls, it looks as if pro-abortion forces have decisively delivered enough votes to overturn the country's 8th amendment that bans abortion. "I've a family myself and I think it's really important", said John Devlin, a marketing worker in his 50s voting No near Dublin's city centre. That said, with a result of that magnitude, clearly there was very little to be done.

"Not taking anything for granted of course, but quietly confident", he said, adding that the upside of a sunny day in Ireland is that people come out to vote.

"I personally don't know if I will return to Ireland if this vote doesn't go through", she said.

As the vote date approached, the battle between the two sides grew increasingly vicious, with both Yes and No campaigns being accused of illegal removing each other's street posters.

Those away for less than 18 months remain eligible to vote at their former local polling station, and a majority appeared to back change.

"The heart of our Christian faith is that God took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and that he took on the human condition", remarked O'Domhnaill.

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Voting on the eighth referendum in the Republic of Ireland will take place until 10pm.

A subsequent government investigation revealed that the ambiguity which surrounds the 8th amendment to the constitution - which only allows for abortions in cases where the life of the mother is in extreme danger - was a "materially contributory factor" in Savita's death.

The country's leaders support a "yes", an outcome that would repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment requiring authorities to treat a foetus and its mother as equals under the law.

Ireland's Prime Minister Leo Varadkar casts his ballot in the referndum.

An Irish Times exit poll released Friday night projected a landslide victory for those who want to loosen abortion laws, but official results are not expected until Saturday afternoon.

"Hopefully it'll be a Yes vote", he said. Today's vote will test how Ireland weighs women's lives against the rules of the church. After that, the woman can have abortion if she still intends to terminate her pregnancy. But in other cases, a doctor can face prosecution and up to 14 years in jail.

Women accessing illegal abortions can receive a maximum 14-year jail sentence, but the law allows them to travel overseas for an abortion, resulting in several thousand Irish women travelling to the United Kingdom each year to terminate their pregnancies. The Irish government has proposed that if the eighth amendment is repealed, abortion will be allowed up to 12 weeks and between 12 and 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.

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