Ireland overturns abortion ban

abortionref

In a landslide vote, the Republic of Ireland has voted to repeal a constitutional ban on abortion.

66.4% of Irish voters voted to repeal and replace the Eighth Amendment, which gave an equal right to life for the mother and the unborn.

Almost all constituencies in the country voted in favour of repeal; Donegal was the only exception – voting 52% to keep the ban.

The Irish government is now expected to introduce legislation to allow for abortion on request for up to 12 weeks and terminations up to 24 weeks in certain circumstances; it is anticipated laws allowing abortion could pass by the end of the year.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar described the result as a “historic day for Ireland” and said that a “quiet revolution” had taken place in the country.

Turnout was extremely high at 64.1% – higher than the turnout for the 2015 referendum on same-sex marriage and the 1995 referendum on divorce.

Opinion polls in the run-up to the referendum had suggested a possible close result, but exit polls and early results from constituencies demonstrated a clear landslide for allowing abortion.

The result has prompted renewed pressure on Northern Ireland, where laws on terminations remain strict.¬†Grainne Teggart of Amnesty International UK told BBC News: “We cannot be left behind in a corner of the UK and on the island of Ireland as second-class citizens.”

Voters in Ireland initially voted to enact the Eighth Amendment in a referendum in 1983, with 66.9% voting in favour of a ban on abortion.

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