Ireland Votes To Overturn Abortion Ban by a Landslide - Lauretta Brown

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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says the passage of the referendum marks a historic day for his country and a great act of democracy.

The Eighth Amendment, which states that an unborn child has the same right to life as a pregnant woman, now does not allow abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or fetal abnormalities.

The referendum results "paint a very sad state of affairs", tweeted Cora Sherlock, a prominent Irish pro-life campaigner.

She said it was not her poster and that call for change has come from the same group of women who pushed for the Yes vote.

"We are waking up to an Ireland where the Irish public have supported a woman's right to choose and a woman's right to make decisions in relation to her pregnancy".

The women and equalities minister said it was a "historic" day for Ireland and a "hopeful one" for Northern Ireland.

But John McGuirk, spokesman for the Save the 8th group, said the vote must be respected. Mr. O'Halloran said he believed that a deeply ingrained sense of responsibility that Irish people feel for visitors and newcomers weighed heavily on the conscience of the nation. Under the current constitutional ban, abortions have only been allowed if the woman's life was at risk. In 2012, the death of 31-year-old dentist Savita Halappanavar - who died from miscarriage complications after being denied an abortion in the country - became a catalyst for the Irish abortion rights movement.

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About two million people voted and results showed urban dwellers and a significant proportion of rural voters backed repeal of the Eighth Amendment of the constitution. They show overwhelming support to lift a ban on abortion.

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

Exit polls from the Irish Times and broadcaster RTE suggested the Irish people have voted by almost 70 percent to repeal the Eighth Amendment. As a result, Irish women would wished to terminate their pregnancies had to seek illegal options within the country - at the risk of being thrown in jail for 14 years - or travel overseas. "A lot of other Irish women have had to travel in the same way if they've had to go to the U.K.to access safe abortion".

If the "yes" forces seeking a constitutional change prevail as the polls suggest, Ireland's parliament will be charged with coming up with new abortion laws.

Art director Aoife Murray, 27, who voted in Dublin, said the exit poll left her in tears of relief. "We will have a modern constitution for a modern country".

Northern Ireland has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe with even rape and fatal foetal abnormality not considered legal grounds for a termination.

An exit poll from Irish broadcaster RTE poll indicated that about 72 per cent of women voted "yes" along with about 66 per cent of men. Amnesty International calls the victory a "momentous win for women's rights" that "marks the beginning of a new Ireland".

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