High turnout in Ireland as voters decide abortion referendum

Hannah Rogers
May 26, 2018

The RTE poll used similar methods and projected the "yes" vote to be almost 70%.

A recent survey showed 56 percent of Irish voters said they were planning to vote "yes" to repeal the amendment, but the gap has steadily narrowed in recent weeks, perhaps due to a "no" campaign funded in part by American anti-abortion groups.

Ireland adopted the ban in 1983, but support has waned as the country has grown more liberal, legalizing divorce and gay marriage. The Eighth Amendment - the constitutional provision protecting the right to life for the unborn - was passed that same year with 67 percent approval.

English singer Boy George spoke about the Irish referendum last month Twitter, announcing that he too was in favour of repealing the eighth.

She said her vote would be one for solidarity and compassion, "a vote to say, I don't send you away any more". "There is a clear division between urban and rural communities geographically, between east and west, between old and young", said Barker.

After Ireland won its independence and became the nation of Ireland, the Irish recognized a shift in world opinion on the issue of life, especially when neighboring England and the United States legalized abortion. "I've a family myself and I think it's really important", said John Devlin, a marketing worker in his 50s who voted "No" near Dublin's city center.

It is an historic moment for a country long viewed as deeply religious and traditional. Those living on the Atlantic islands cast their ballot a day early to help prevent delays in transportation and counting the ballot papers.

People hold "yes" placards as the country heads to polling stations, May 25, 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

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In a heartwarming trend, dozens of good Samaritans back home in Ireland have offered to sponsor strangers who otherwise can't afford to get home to vote. "Thank you to everybody who voted today - democracy can be so powerful on days like today - looks like a stunning result that will bring about a fundamental change for the better", he tweeted late on Friday night.

The effective prohibition on abortion in Ireland was partially lifted in 2013 for cases when a mother's life was in danger.

"I feel like I've waited all of my adult life to have a say on this".

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who backs the reform, said he was hopeful that the ban would be abolished as he voted in Dublin. The first indications of the result are expected mid-morning on Saturday after the count begins at 08.00 GMT.

The question being asked of voters is whether they want to repeal a section of the constitution which gives equal rights to the mother and her unborn child.

Writing in the Times Ireland newspaper, Varadkar urged voters to put themselves in the shoes of an Irish woman dealing with a crisis pregnancy.

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

If the Eighth Amendment, also known as Article 40.3.3, is repealed, it is expected to be recommended that abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy be introduced without restriction. Today's vote will test how Ireland weighs women's lives against the rules of the church. Since the inception of e-commerce, Irish women have been illegally purchasing abortion pills online, of which 1,200 were seized in one year alone.

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