Voters in Ireland overwhelmingly voted to repeal the country’s 8th amendment, which banned all abortions except when the life of the mother was in danger.
Although the official tally will not be released until later Saturday, early returns were so overwhelming that forces opposing the repeal quickly conceded defeat. The result represents a continued liberalization of the historically Catholic nation, which legalized divorce in 1995 and same-sex marriage three years ago.
— Caitriona Perry (@CaitrionaPerry) May 26, 2018
“The people have said we want a modern constitution for a modern country, that we trust women and we respect them to make the right decision, the right choices about their own healthcare,” Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Irish Times.
“Women have been told take the plane, take the boat. Today we say take our hand. Women have been told you are on your own. Today we say we stand with you,” Minister for Health Simon Harris said.
Women in Ireland seeking an abortion had been forced to travel abroad. About 3,000 Irish women went to Britain each year for abortion services. The vote will not immediately legalize abortion in Ireland, but clears the constitutional hurdles for legislation to be passed. The overwhelming margin of victory will put political pressure on legislators to move quickly.
The repeal gained political momentum in 2012 when a woman, Savita Halappanavar, died after being denied an abortion during an extended miscarriage. An exception for “life of the mother” was adopted in 2013.
Andanappa Yalagi, the father of Savita Halappanavar, who died of sepsis in Galway in 2012 after being denied an abortion during a protracted miscarriage, said he was “very happy today” https://t.co/86hItxHmuE
— Claire Phipps (@Claire_Phipps) May 26, 2018
An exit poll found that 68% percent of voters favored repeal. An abortion ban remains in place in Northern Ireland.