Ireland abortion referendum: What you need to know

26 May, 2018, 10:59 | Author: Charlene Valdez
  • Exit poll suggests hugely one-sided result in abortion referendum

Polls by The Irish Times and RTE suggest about 69 percent voted to repeal a part of the constitution that effectively bans terminations.

The hashtag #hometovote, first used for Ireland's 2015 gay marriage referendum, has been re-used by Irish citizens based overseas to share their journeys back home to have their say in the vote on whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The Irish Times poll surveyed 4,000 voters at 160 polling stations in every constituency in Ireland, while the RTE surveyed 3,800 people at 175 stations across the country.

The vote pitted conservative backers of strict abortion restrictions against those supporting a woman's right to choose.

A silent No vote is the only thing that can derail attempts to repeal the Eighth Amendment, it has been claimed as the Republic goes to the polls.

"It is a vote to say, I don't send you away anymore". That said, with a result of that magnitude, clearly there was very little to be done.

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Campaigning by pro- and anti-abortion groups has ramped up in recent weeks, dominating the news cycle in Ireland.

Although the point at which a pregnancy is considered "viable" - that is, that the baby could potentially survive outside the womb - differs from country to country, it's most often put at 21-23 weeks, making the likelihood that Halappanavar's foetus, at just 17 weeks, would have survived birth at the point that doctors were fruitlessly attempting to save it near zero.

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.

Leo Varadkar, Ireland's prime minister, or taoiseach, leaves a Dublin polling station after casting his vote in Friday's referendum. Many people voted on their way to work and sported "I voted" buttons.

The result is expected to be close after a polarising campaign, but the latest polls suggest voters are ready to overturn the ban.

People over 65, however, voted mostly against overhauling the current legislation, which only allows terminations in cases where the mother's life is in danger. Votes will be counted beginning Saturday morning, with an announcement expected during the afternoon.

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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.

"I'm a staunch No".

Her father Andanappa Yalagi released a video calling on voters to "remember Savita" when they voted.

Star Wars hero Mark Hamill has voiced his opinion on the referendum on Twitter after he was asked by a fellow social media user, "Can we get a shout from @HamillHimself for #repealthe8th in Ireland which prevents women having reproductive rights in any circumstances [in] Friday referendum".

As per 1983 amendment, anyone terminating a pregnancy in Ireland could face 14 years in jail. Some 170,000 Irish women are believed to have traveled to the UK for abortions between 1980 and 2016, according to data from the UK Department of Health compiled by Ireland's Solidarity Party.

Ms Woods says the fact that Ireland is even considering a change in its law is a reflection of how the Catholic Church's stranglehold on daily life has loosened.

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