Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Exit Polls Point To Landslide Win In Ireland Vote To Decriminalise Abortion

Huge turnout predicted in Kildare referendum vote this Friday Polls will open in Kildare at 7am on Friday morning
| 26 May, 2018, 11:01

Ireland appears poised to overwhelmingly overturn a constitutional amendment that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, according to a exit poll.

Counting votes does not get underway until Saturday morning local time with a result expected by Saturday night, AEST.

Voters selected "yes" or "no" on the question of repealing Ireland's 8th Amendment, which banned all abortions except when a mother's life is at risk.

If the exit poll numbers hold up, the victory will be of a larger magnitude than "yes" activists had believed possible. That meant, in practice, that abortion was strictly against the law.

The Eighth Amendment, which was added to the constitution following a referendum in 1983, places the rights of the fetus and the rights of its mother on equal footing, effectively banning abortion barring a "real and substantial risk" to the mother's life. They called it a once-in-a-generation opportunity to liberalise some of Europe's strictest abortion rules.

Voters went to the polls after a campaign that aroused deep emotions on both sides.

If a majority has voted yes - as appears to be the case - then the Irish government's recommendation is that women will be able to access a termination within the first 12 weeks of their pregnancy. For opponents, it would be a betrayal of Ireland's commitment to protect the unborn.

Some of those traveling back to Ireland to vote "yes" recalled undertaking trips in the other direction to seek reproductive services in other countries. The poll says that 68 percent voted yes, and 32 percent voted against. The pollster says it interviewed some 4,000 people and the survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 1.5 percentage points. A second exit poll was due to be published by 2230 GMT.


"I've followed it a lot and feel that it's important to have a say", Mr Gaultier said.

Who's on the cultural ascendancy in Ireland? "Whether you agree or disagree, it shouldn't be the government or anyone else making that decision". He urged people to vote "yes" in favor of repeal. "That will just make us fight harder against abortion".

"I think there are a lot of people who are reluctant to speak their minds".

The Irish government's push to liberalize the laws is in contrast to the United States, where abortion has always been legal, but President Donald Trump backs stripping federal funding from women's health care clinics that offer abortions.

"Yes" campaigners argued that with over 3,000 women traveling to Britain each year for terminations - a right enshrined in a 1992 referendum - and others ordering pills illegally online, abortion is already a reality in Ireland. If the 8th is repealed, it would allow for abortion without restrictions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy.

Asked to confirm that Catholic bishops were opposed to abortion in all cases, including those of rape and incest, McGuckian said that that was the case.

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. While early polls suggested the Yes campaign would win, the landslide victory has surprised some commentators in a country known for its strong conservative Catholic roots.

The exit poll showed "an overwhelming desire for change that nobody has foreseen", wrote Irish Times deputy political editor Fiach Kelly.

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