Vastavam web: Ireland is set to liberalise some of the world’s most restrictive abortion laws after exit polls suggested a landslide vote for change in what was until recently one of Europe’s most socially conservative countries.As the vote count began on Saturday morning, a spokesman for an anti-abortion umbrella group Save The 8th John McGuirk conceded there was “no prospect” the country’s abortion ban, imposed in a 1983 referendum, would be retained.
“It’s a Yes” read a banner front-page headline in the country’s best-selling newspaper, the Irish Independent after two exit polls suggested a landslide win, which it described it as “a massive moment in Ireland’s social history”.Voters were asked if they wish to scrap the eighth amendment to the constitution, which gives an unborn child and its mother equal rights to life. The consequent prohibition on abortion was partly lifted in 2013 for cases where the mother’s life was in danger.
“It’s looking like we will make history tomorrow,” Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who was in favour of change, said on Friday night on Twitter.Vote-counting began at 0800 GMT across the country on Saturday, with the first indication of official results expected mid-morning. Campaigners for change, wearing “Repeal” jumpers and “Yes” badges, gathered at the main Dublin count centre, many in tears and hugging each other.“Yes” campaigners argued that with over 3,000 women travelling 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.
For the “No” campaign, the outcome was seen as a disaster. “What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions,” Save The 8th said in a statement. “However, a wrong does not become a right simply because a majority support it.”