Some Irish Catholics anxious, dismayed after abortion vote

Casey Dawson
May 28, 2018

Abortion rights groups in Ireland are claiming victory as official results show voters have repealed a constitutional ban on abortions.

Following the announcement at Dublin Castle, the taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who campaigned in favour of repealing, said it was "a historic day for Ireland".

The Irish electorate voted by 1,429,981 votes to 723,632 to repeal the 1983 amendment, which recognizes the equal right to life of the pregnant woman and her unborn child.

"The final result of the Referendum is the will of the majority of the people, though not all the people".

He said the referendum result marked "the day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light". "This is about women taking their rightful place in Irish society, finally".

Conceding defeat, the "No" campaign said: "What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions".

But John McGuirk, spokesman for the Save the 8th group, said the vote must be respected.

"I congratulate the Irish people on their decision and all of #Together4Yes on their successful campaign". Under the current constitutional ban, abortions have only been allowed if the woman's life was at risk.

Thousands of Irish women travelled to the United Kingdom every year for abortions, or sourced abortion pills.

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The Irish Times and RTE television exit polls suggest the Irish people have voted by almost 70 percent to repeal the 1983 constitutional amendment, which requires authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law.

With Ireland voting overwhelming to repeal the ban on abortion, the question now turns to what will happen next? Mr. Varadkar said the government will move quickly to introduce legislation that will allow the country's health service to provide unrestricted abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

The RTE exit poll of 3,779 voters predicts support for the "yes" vote in urban areas to be about 72 percent, with rural support at about 63 percent.

Since 1983, the now-repealed Eighth Amendment had forced women seeking to terminate pregnancies to go overseas for abortions, bear children conceived through rape or incest, or take illegal measures at home. "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".

Ireland has voted by a landslide to liberalise some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws.

With the vote decided, attention is turning to Ireland's parliament, which will make new laws to govern abortions. "It's an Ireland that is more tolerant, more inclusive and where he can be whatever he wants without fear of recrimination", said Colm O'Riain, a 44-year-old teacher with his son Ruarai, who was born 14 weeks premature in November.

"The position in Northern Ireland is now highly anomalous and I think, probably, action will now have to be taken", Cable said.

Ahead of Friday's vote the Catholic Church in Ireland encouraged its followers to keep the right to life in the constitution but critics say the church's moral authority has weakened after a series of child abuse scandals.

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