Ireland voting today to loosen abortion ban

26 May, 2018, 10:59 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Irish Women Turn Out in Droves to Repeal Constitutional Ban on Abortion

After weeks of anticipation, acrimony and more than a little heated discussion, Irish voters are finally casting ballots Friday to decide a simple yet deeply divisive question: Should the country repeal a constitutional amendment that bans abortion in almost all circumstances?

This comes as a Monday Sky Data poll shows 47 percent of those surveyed support legalizing abortion through the first trimester of pregnancy while those against abortion number 37 percent and 11 percent remain undecided.

Effectively, that means abortion is banned in Ireland unless the pregnancy poses a real and substantial risk to the mother's life.

The eighth amendment to the Irish constitution was installed following a 1983 referendum which approved outlawing abortion.

"The conversation that has resulted in me going to the ballot box to vote "Yes" with certainty hasn't been a straightforward one", deputy prime minister Simon Coveney wrote in the Irish Independent newspaper on Thursday.

If the "yes" vote is confirmed, Ireland's parliament will be tasked with writing new regulations on abortion.

"I'm not usually an early riser, but I couldn't wait to get down here to vote", she said. Numerous anti-abortion signs showed photographs of fetuses. "A high turnout, I think, would be to the advantage of the "Yes" campaign", Varadkar, who is in favor of change and has called the referendum a "once-in-a-generation" chance, told reporters.

Some voters encountered trouble Friday attempting to return to Ireland to cast a ballot.

Theresa Sweeney, a repeal supporter, was one of the first people to arrive at the North Grand Church polling station in Dublin.

"I have found it hard, I have stumbled but I have met extraordinary women and men along the way who have changed my perspectives on this deeply emotive issue".

Campaigning was not allowed Friday, but Dublin was still filled with signs and banners urging citizens to vote "yes" or "no".

Currently, abortion is only allowed when a woman's life is at risk, but not in cases of rape, incest or fatal foetal abnormality.

Her father Andanappa Yalagi released a video calling on voters to "remember Savita" when they voted.

The Irish government's push to liberalize the laws is in contrast to the United States, where abortion has always been legal, but U.S. President Donald Trump backs stripping federal funding from women's health-care clinics that offer abortions. Votes will be counted beginning Saturday morning, with an announcement expected during the afternoon.

An Irish Times exit poll of about 4,000 voters by Ipsos/MRBI shows that 68% voted "Yes" to repealing the Eighth Amendment, which guarantees a mother and her unborn fetus "an equal right to life".

But in the small town of Kilcullen, some 50 kilometres (32 miles) southwest of Dublin, voter Sean Murphy said: "I don't see any reason to change from the position we are in at the moment".

Anyone terminating a pregnancy in Ireland could face 14 years in jail.

Many Irish women seeking an abortion are forced to travel overseas, often to the UK.

In the event of a Yes vote, the Government will introduce legislation permitting unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks.

Health minister Simon Harris, whose proposed abortion laws were subjected to intense scrutiny during the campaign, tweeted: "Will sleep tonight in the hope of waking up to a country that is more compassionate, more caring and more respectful".

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