Ireland overwhelmingly backs reform in abortion referendum

“Yes” vote supporters celebrate as the results in the Irish referendum on the 8th amendment concerning the country's abortion laws takes place at Dublin Castle

Irish Students Offered Grants to Fly Home and Vote 'Yes' to Abortion

This week's historic referendum could change that.

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

Ahead of the vote, thousands of people living overseas are returning home to Ireland to mark their ballots.

Campaigns on both sides of the issue grew intense leading up to the vote.

Voters over 65 were the only age group overall not supporting the repeal of the amendment.

As the nation approaches the referendum, the bishop said the choice facing the Irish people "is quite clear". Ireland's Housing Minister set the date for Friday, May 25.

After months of hearing evidence from both sides of the debate the Citizens' Assembly and Joint Oireachtas Committee, both recommended the removal of the Eighth Amendment. The amendment was introduced in 1983 with a referendum which won the support of 67 per cent of the population. Flávia Simas of Migrant and Ethnic-minorities for Reproductive Justice (MERJ) explained the discriminatory impact of the Eight Amendment on migrants in Direct Provision, reminding us of the harrowing case of Ms Y, an asylum seeker, pregnant as a result of rape and suicidal, who was denied an abortion in 2014. As The Washington Post's William Booth outlined this week, the amendment outlaws nearly all abortion - even in cases of rape, incest, fatal fetal abnormality and risk to the woman's health.

Early results declared Saturday afternoon pointed to a landslide win for abortion rights campaigners across the country.

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Islands in south-west Cork will vote on Friday along with the rest of the country.

David Healion and Sarah Sweeney were two of many Twitter users saying flights to Ireland were busy with Yes campaigners - some of whom were wearing "repeal" jumpers. By comparison, turnout was just over 60 percent when Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015.

Since 1980, more than 170,000 women have travelled to the United Kingdom from Ireland to access abortion services.

Savita's death was followed in quick succession by a series of other tragedies. Halappanavar, 31, went to a hospital in grave pain.

Former chairman of Ireland's Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, Eamon McGuinness, says doctors should provide counselling and care; he's voting No.

She died of blood poisoning. The experts also have said that other barriers to abortion should be removed, including requirements for spousal consent.

"A lot of misleading claims were made about Ireland's healthcare", she said.

"The 8th amendment did not create a right to life for the unborn child - it merely acknowledged that such a right exists, has always existed, and will always exist", the pro-life Save the 8th campaign said in a statement. After 12 weeks abortion would only be available in cases of fatal foetal anomaly, if the pregnant woman's life was at risk or if her health was at risk of serious harm. The image of the soldier in particular is a revolting twisting of reality - there are few organisations more successful at slaughtering the world's children than its various militaries.

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Who is opposed to repealing the 8th amendment and why? "It has taken 35 years, 10 governments and a massive public campaign to get us here, and in that time Ireland's draconian abortion laws have caused huge misery and even cost lives", said Colm O' Gorman. The official statistics in England and Wales show that one in five pregnancies ends in abortion and over 185,000 abortions are carried out each year. Ireland, where 78% of citizens are defined as Catholic, symbolically rejected meddling of church in social affairs, months before Pope Francis traveled to country, on first papal visit since 1979.

Harris announced that Tuesday will formally ask Government to approve its draft new rules of abortion, to become a bill and can begin its parliamentary procedure.

And it seems unlikely that there would be another vote anytime soon.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar's government supports lifting current abortion restrictions. This will be an election issue for years to come.

What happens if Ireland votes yes? .

The majority of Ireland's political leaders support removing the Eighth Amendment from the constitution, although they are divided on what would come next.

The first to declare was Galway East, a traditionally conservative constituency in the west that nonetheless returned a large majority for repealing the abortion ban by a 60.2 percent to 39.8 percent vote. Instead, lawmakers would need to pass new legislation to replace it.

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