Irish abortion referendum: Exit polls suggest landslide for repeal

Arturo Kim
May 26, 2018

The exit polls by RTE television and the Irish Times both projected a landslide victory for the "yes" forces seeking to liberalise the strict abortion ban.

The Irish Times exit poll showed overwhelming majorities in all age groups under 65 voted for change, including nearly nine in every 10 voters under the age of 24.

The referendum on whether to repeal the country's strict anti-abortion law is being seen by anti-abortion activists as a last-ditch stand against what they view as a European norm of abortion-on-demand, while for pro-abortion rights advocates, it is a fundamental moment for declaring an Irish woman's right to choose.

The scale of the victory has been likened to the equal marriage result by LGBT campaigners, the majority of whom backed the Yes side or remained neutral in the abortion vote.

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.

A shrine dedicated to her sprang up on Friday, adorned by flowers and messages from those who voted Yes to the proposed repeal of the Eighth Amendment. It would then fall to Parliament to establish new laws governing abortions.

Deputy prime minister of Ireland, Tanaiste Simon Coveney, said in response to the preliminary polling, "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".

The laws were amended again in 2013, after woman died because she was denied an abortion during a miscarriage.

"What changed people's opinions is that for many years, we've all become aware of the huge harm the eighth amendment has caused over the years".

This comes in the middle of the Republic of Ireland's referendum about abortion. "No doubt many people voted for repeal based on the Taoiseach's promises in this regard" she added.

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Abortion be legal for women in their first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

He said the Ireland we will see from now on is one that "will wrap women in a blanket of compassion".

The maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

Thousands of Irish people overseas travelled home to take part in the historic referendum, and supporters of repeal gathered at Dublin Airport to give arrivals an ecstatic welcome.

However, beyond 12 weeks, abortions would only be permitted where there is a risk to a woman's life or of serious harm to the physical or mental health of a woman, up until the 24th week of pregnancy. "I think one of the realities is that many of us live in urban centres where we are surrounded by folks that think the same as us, and we don't really talk about these social issues that we take for granted".

Campaigning was not allowed Friday, but Dublin was still filled with signs and banners urging citizens to vote "yes" or "no".

Videos and photos on Twitter show many travelers being welcomed home.

Ballot boxes will open at 9am and the official count will begin.

Letters to the editor published on Friday in the Irish Independent newspaper contained several emotional arguments urging voters to reject the repeal movement.

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