Ireland set to end abortion ban as exit polls signal landslide vote

PA Wire  PA Images                   A woman lays flowers next to a mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin as Ireland went to the polls

PA Wire PA Images A woman lays flowers next to a mural of Savita Halappanavar in Dublin as Ireland went to the polls

A poll conducted by RTE Television showed that nearly 70 percent of respondents voted to repeal the abortion ban, and another poll for The Irish Times was similar - showing 68 percent of those surveyed voted for repealing the eight amendment, against 32 percent who said abortions should still be banned in the country.

Yet 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.

One of the supporters of the push to fully legalize abortion is the so-called Human Rights Watch.

In 2013, Ireland passed Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act that allowed abortion in cases where there was substantial risk to the mother's life.

Friday's referendum follows months of bitter debate between "Yes" and "No" campaigners on whether or not the country's Eighth Amendment - which acknowledges the embryo's right to life "with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother" - should be scrapped.

At the end of the day, if the anti-abortion law of Ireland does get voted out, terminating a pregnancy will at the least no longer be a crime.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar tweeted his support for the repeal before a moratorium on campaigning took effect Thursday.

No social issue has divided Ireland's 4.8 million people as sharply as abortion, which was pushed up the political agenda by the death in 2012 of a 31-year-old Indian immigrant from a septic miscarriage after she was refused a termination.

The pro-choice campaign had an early lead in opinion polls but lost some of its advantage in recent weeks and experts have predicted the result could be exceptionally close, with many voters still undecided.

The poll suggests that the margin of victory in the rest of Leinster outside Dublin will be 66 per cent to 34 per cent, while Munster will also break 66-34 in favour of repeal.

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Vera Rooney voted against repeal.

Voters have been asked whether to remove or retain the eighth amendment of the constitution.

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

Doctors who perform an abortion outside the law could be imprisoned for up to 14 years. In Dublin, people gathered in front of a wall in Temple bar where hundreds of post-its carried messages in support of repealing the eighth amendment and legalising abortion.

Many returning home to vote were greeted by a group of activists holding a placard reading "Thank you for making the journey so other women don't have to" - a reference to the way Irish women seeking abortions have had to leave the country to obtain them.

Tara Flynn, who 11 years ago flew to the Netherlands for an abortion, said she planned to vote "yes" to make sure future generations of women don't endure what she did, with feelings of isolation and shame. "I'm one of the lucky ones", he said.

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

Currently, South Korean law prohibits abortion in most circumstances.

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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