Ireland votes down abortion law by wide margin

The news that the Republic of Ireland has voted to liberalise some of the world's most restrictive abortion laws has been met with an overwhelming response; and many celebrities and well-known faces have taken to social media to share their reaction to the historic result. Initial counts show that 67 percent of voters were in favor of repealing the ban, in a major blow to the Catholic Church.

The final results of Friday's referendum showed 66.4 percent voted for removing the constitutional ban, while 33.6 voted against.

The removal of the Eighth will make it easier for women from Northern Ireland to access abortions, as they will no longer have to travel to mainland UK.

The Irish Times and RTE television exit polls suggest the Irish people have voted by almost 70 percent to repeal the 1983 constitutional amendment, which requires authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has praised the apparent victory in the abortion referendum as "the culmination of a quiet revolution" that has been unfolding in the past 10 to 20 years.

An Irish election official confirmed a landslide victory for abortion rights advocates as Ireland repealed its constitutional ban.

Irish Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said she was deeply moved by the vote.

U.K. Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and other politicians said Saturday it is time for Northern Ireland to change as well.

The results of the vote led to an outpouring of emotion from the crowd of protestors, with many chanting the "Savita, Savita", in reference to dentist Savita Halappanavar, 31, whose tragic death in 2012 sparked worldwide outrage.

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"I obviously would have preferred if they had come down on the other", John McGuirk, communications director for the "Save the 8th" campaign, said on Saturday.

The Irish Times newspaper predicted 68 percent of voters cast ballots to change the law in an exit poll published earlier.

The group, in a statement on its website, said the voters had committed "a tragedy of historic proportions". The strongest backing came from younger voters - the exit poll said the only age group in which a majority voted "no" were voters who are 65 or older.

The proposed legislation will allow abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and up to the 24th week in exceptional circumstances.

An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI exit poll suggested that voters backed change by 68 percent to 32 percent and indicated majorities in all age groups under 65 voted for change, including nearly nine in every 10 voters under the age of 24.

While Bellamak says that's good news, the difference between Ireland and New Zealand is that Ireland went "straight to the people" while here it would be a conscience vote in Parliament.

O'Connor said the vote is a "rejection of an Ireland that treated women as second-class citizens".

Mary Lou McDonald, president of the Sinn Fein party, which campaigned on the yes side, said Ireland has "without doubt done right by Irish women for this generation and many to come". "However, today we have ensured that it does not have to be lived again".

Among the 40 constituencies, the pro-choice vote peaked at 78 percent in Dublin Bay South, while rural Donegal was the only one to vote against abortion, by 52 percent.

  • Sonia Alvarado