Almost 70 Percent of Irish Vote to Repeal 8th Amendment

Al Jazeera's Neave Barker, reporting from Ireland, said the vote had split Irish society between those in favour of repealing the abortion ban and those who wish to see it maintained.

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

An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll suggested that voters in the once deeply Catholic nation had backed change by 68 percent to 32 percent.

More than 170,000 women traveled from the Republic of Ireland to access abortion services in another country between 1980 and 2016, according to the Irish Family Planning Association.

The turnout at mid afternoon on Friday was higher than at the same stage of the country's referendum on same-sex marriage and its most recent general election.

He said: "I always get a little buzz from voting". Ireland has always been one of Europe's most socially conservative countries, and contraception was only fully legalized in 1985, while divorce was banned until 1995.

With that in mind, members of the queer community have travelled from far and wide in the hope that no Irish woman will have to make a journey overseas to terminate a pregnancy ever again. That meant, in practice, that abortion was strictly against the law.

More than 3.2 million people are registered to vote in the referendum, with more than 100,000 new voters registering ahead of the poll.

However, in 1992 in what is referred to as Case X, a 14-year-old girl who fell pregnant after being raped claimed to be suicidal and therefore, a risk to her life and the unborn.

Mr Wilson said the #hometovote moment had been "extremely instrumental" in getting people engaged in the referendum.

Save the 8th said that going forward they will continue to oppose the legislation around abortion in Ireland.

Ministers have promised to allow terminations within the first 12 weeks, subject to medical advice and a cooling-off period, and between 12 and 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances. "Whether you agree or disagree, it shouldn't be the government or anyone else making that decision". A narrow victory might have led to more limited abortion with more stringent conditions attached.

Although the ballots will not be counted until Saturday, surveys conducted outside polling stations by the country's leading newspaper, The Irish Times, and its state broadcaster, RTE, agreed that close to 70 percent of the electorate had supported lifting the ban.

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

"If we vote "yes", every unborn, wanted and unwanted, will have zero rights", Killarney resident Frances Kelleher wrote.

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

"I do not believe the smart people of Ireland want this unrestricted, abortion-on-demand bill".

  • Joey Payne