Ireland votes ‘yes’ to repeal constitutional abortion ban

Exit polls show that voters in Ireland might have just legalized abortion by a landslide

Exit polls show that voters in Ireland might have just legalized abortion by a landslide

Vote counting for Ireland's historic abortion rights referendum began on Saturday morning at 0800 UTC with official results expected to be declared in the late afternoon. 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.

Ireland overwhelmingly voted in favour of legalising abortion on Friday, two early exit polls show.

Ireland has some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws, with many women resorting to leaving the country in order to terminate an unwanted pregnancy.

"If we don't remove the Amendment from the constitution our doctors and lawmakers can't do anything for women", he said.

A high turnout would suggest both voter bases are fired up, meaning those who were coming off the fence would be decisive, said John McGuirk, spokesman for the anti-abortion Save the 8th umbrella group.

#RepealThe8th, promoted by those who are pro-choice (against abortion ban), has been used nearly 90,000 times on Instagram, and even more times on Twitter and Facebook.

It has the potential to be a huge day for Ireland should this referendum pass and the constitution is amended accordingly.

The referendum is one of the most anticipated, and controversial, in the heavily Catholic nation's history, as it could roll back rules that now only allow abortion in the case of a woman's life being at risk, but not for rape, incest or fatal fetal abnormality.

In Dublin, 79% of people voted for repeal, according to the RTÉ poll.

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The Irish Times survey suggested that women voted by 70 percent in favour of the proposal and 30 percent against. Varadkar has campaigned aggressively for repealing Ireland's abortion ban, but the vote's results are expected to be close.

Andanappa Yalagi, father of Savita who died of sepsis in Galway in 2012 after being denied an abortion during a protracted miscarriage, told the media he was "very happy today".

Polling stations were open until 10pm on Friday, with many rushing from airports to have their say.

Ms Butler said she is "reserving her position" on unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy but has come around to allowing terminations in case of rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities.

The sample size was 3,800 with a margin of error of +/- 1.6 per cent. Anyone who seeks or performs an abortion under the 1983 law can be sent to prison for up to 14 years.

The eighth amendment requires authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law, effectively banning abortions.

"I personally don't know if I will return to Ireland if this vote doesn't go through", she said.

Nevertheless, given the extent to which he has thrown his weight behind "yes", many observers regard this vote as a referendum partly on the popularity of his still-young tenure as premier.

Voters will be asked if they wish to scrap a prohibition that was added in the Constitution by referendum 35 years ago, and partly lifted in 2013 only for cases where the mother's life is in danger.

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