UK leader hails Ireland abortion vote result

Irish Students Offered Grants to Fly Home and Vote 'Yes' to Abortion

Irish Students Offered Grants to Fly Home and Vote 'Yes' to Abortion

The next battleground is likely to be Ireland's parliament, where the government led by Varadkar hopes to capitalize on the fresh momentum and enact legislation spelling out the conditions under which abortions will be legal for the first time by the end of this year.

The question at stake on Friday is whether or not to repeal the 8th Amendment of the Irish constitution, which protects the right to life of the unborn. That effectively bans all abortions in Ireland, except in cases when the woman's life is at risk.

Ireland, for centuries guided and dominated by the Catholic Church, has one of the strictest abortion bans in the developed world.

If citizens vote in favor of repeal, new abortion laws will then be discussed in parliament.

The "yes" camp took more than 66 per cent of the vote, according to the official tally, and turnout was about 64 per cent. Dublin Central posted 76.5 percent for repeal, while two constituencies in the southern capital of Cork City polled 64 percent and nearly 69 percent. Her parents in India were quoted by the Irish Times newspaper as thanking their "brothers and sisters" in Ireland and requesting the new law be called "Savita's law".

Although Irish women have been unhappy with the amendment since it was first introduced, it would take almost 25 years for it to be overturned.

"This has been a great exercise in democracy", Varadkar said, "and the people have spoken and the people have said: We want a modern constitution for a modern country, and that we trust women and that we respect them to make the right decisions and the right choices about their own health care".

The prime minister, a medical doctor who came to power a year ago, spoke to RTE News in advance of the announcement of the referendum's official results, expected later Saturday.

While some countries have conditions such as requiring authorisation by one or more doctors in place, these are not always a barrier in practice, she said.

Irish voters will be asked on May 25 whether to liberalise the country's abortion laws. "This is about women taking their rightful place in Irish society, finally".

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Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, has strict abortion laws, allowing the procedure only if the woman's life is at risk or her mental or physical health are in jeopardy. A leading anti-abortion group admitted defeat Saturday.

Ireland's overwhelming vote to legalize abortion is viewed as the last main social taboo to fall in this Catholic-majority country, but the church's hold on Irish life has been weak for some time, experts say.

The vote is a "rejection of an Ireland that treated women as second-class citizens", she said, adding: "This is about women's equality and this day brings massive change, monumental change for women in Ireland, and there is no going back".

She said her vote would be one for solidarity and compassion, "a vote to say, I don't send you away anymore".

In a statement released today, the Grand Lodge of Ireland said it was calling on its "members, supporters and friends" to follow the Bible's teaching and reject the repeal of the constitution's Eighth Amendment. Under the current constitutional ban, abortions have only been allowed if the woman's life was at risk. Friday, Irish voters will decide whether to repeal that amendment. In the end, 39 voted for repeal.

"Shortly, legislation will be introduced that will allow babies to be killed in our country".

Around 2,000 voters in 12 islands off the mainland were eligible to vote on Thursday to prevent any delay in counting their ballot papers.

An investigation found that the country's abortion law played a hand in her doctors' decision not to induce the miscarriage, and, in turn, her death.

If people vote yes, the Government intends to allow terminations within the first 12 weeks, subject to medical advice and a cooling-off period, and between 12 and 24 weeks in a restricted fashion.