Ireland votes to legalise abortion in landslide ‘Yes’ victory: exit polls

Remigio Civitarese
Mag 26, 2018

With a turnout of 70%, the exit poll results give the Yes vote a margin of victory nobody had been predicting.

Hosted by David McCullagh, he will reveal what the the Behaviour & Attitudes exit poll found after interviewing 3,000 people across the country, immediately after they voted.

This law was put on test yesterday in a referendum to decide whether to repeal Ireland's Eighth Amendment and change its current abortion laws.

The eight amendment, introduced in 1983, enshrined in Irish law the equal right to life of a mother and her unborn child.

A bitter campaign has dominated public debate in Ireland over recent months as almost 3.5 million voters are asked whether they want to overturn a constitutional ban on abortion. If the 8th is repealed, it would allow for abortion without restrictions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy. As a result, thousands of Irish women make the trip overseas, often to England, to have an abortion.

Indeed, images of tally sheets from around the country seem to back up these polls.

A poll conducted on Friday by Ipsos/MRBI for the Times as voting commenced suggests that as much as 68 percent of voters chose to support the referendum overturning the ban, compared to just 32 percent who voted to keep the practiced banned.

Draft legislation released before the referendum would allow for relatively unrestricted abortions up until 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to consultation with a doctor and a short waiting period.

That was in line with recommendations made by an all-party parliamentary committee, which came to a more liberal position than some had anticipated after concluding that legislating for termination for reasons of rape and incest was too complex. "Whether you agree or disagree, it shouldn't be the government or anyone else making that decision".

The effective prohibition on abortion in Ireland was partially lifted in 2013 for cases when a mother's life was in danger. The prime minister, Leo Varadkar, said he planned to have the new law enacted by the end of the year.

Nevertheless, given the extent to which he has thrown his weight behind "yes", many observers regard this vote as a referendum partly on the popularity of his still-young tenure as premier.

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The archbishop described the vote as a "watershed and historic moment" as people are asked for the first time in Ireland, by referendum, "to discuss the equality of all human life". Numerous anti-abortion signs showed photographs of fetuses. Thirty-two percent of voters opposed the repeal.

"If we vote "yes" every unborn, wanted and unwanted, will have zero rights", wrote Frances Kelleher, from Killarney.

The results followed a contentious and emotional campaign in a deeply Catholic nation, home to one of the world's strictest abortion bans.

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