Ireland wakes up to a vote in favour of repealing the constitution to allow abortions on Saturday, May 26.
According to a poll of the public broadcaster RTE, the vote to allow abortion achieved a resounding 68-to-70% victory. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar had backed the reforms.
It was a heated debate and polarised campaign but the poll suggests an uncontroversial lead for the “Yes” campaign. Participation is said to have reached 70% of the electorate, or 3,2 million people, which confirms the understanding that Irish society has changed significantly.
The Irish went to the polls on Friday to decide whether or not to repeal the 8th Constitutional amendment introduced – again, via referendum – in 1983. This was Ireland’s the sixth vote on the subject.
Counting of the ballots started at 09.00 on Saturday, local time.
The Irish constitution gage the unborn child the same right to life as the pregnant woman. Ireland’s law only allows termination of pregnancy if a doctor can certify a threat to the woman’s life. Violating the law carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
It is the strictest regulatory regime in Europe, along with Malta and Poland. Abortion is not automatically allowed in cases of rape, incest or foetal abnormality.
The result of the vote affects Northern Ireland, where abortion laws are stricter than the rest of the UK. For most voters favouring a reform of the law, legalising termination of pregnancy means given women the choice for up to the 12-week, extended in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.