Ireland overturns abortion ban in landslide vote

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The Irish people voted Friday to repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment banning abortion rights for women with 66.4% in favor, a almost 2-1 victory for the nation's "yes" campaign, BBC reports.

If the projected numbers hold up, the referendum would be a landmark in Irish women's fight for abortion rights. This will be debated and decided on in parliament over the coming weeks, with the laws set to be passed before the end of this year.

If confirmed, the outcome will be the latest milestone on a path of change for a country which only legalized divorce by a razor thin majority in 1995 before becoming the first in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote three years ago.

With Ireland voting overwhelming to repeal the ban on abortion, the question now turns to what will happen next?

Varadkar said the country had voted resoundingly Yes to liberalise its strict abortion laws. "And we say that we trust women and we respect women and their decisions". "This has been a great exercise in democracy and the people have spoken". And unlike other parts of the United Kingdom, abortions are banned apart from when the life or mental health of the mother is in danger.

All but one of the country's 40 constituencies voted in favor of repeal including traditionally conservative rural counties where support came close to 60 per cent.

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The final results confirmed what many suspected the result would be.

In the absence of an Executive, key decisions on the governing of Northern Ireland have been taken by the Government, with legislation being introduced on Northern Ireland's budget, regional rates, and the pay of suspended assembly members.

An untold number of those votes were cast by young Irish women now living overseas, like Ciara Coogan, who travelled home from where she works in France to participate.

Despite the resounding victory of the yes vote, the No campaign's chief spokesman John McGuirk said they will continue to protest "if and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland". Many traveled overseas to undergo the procedure, and others bought pills online.

Today we celebrate the victory in the Republic, but 'Tiocfaidh ár lá" - "our day will come'.

Fantastic crowds at Dublin Castle.

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Opponents of the repeal movement conceded defeat earlier. As a result of the Eighth Amendment to the document, which voters overwhelmingly backed in 1983, the state "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn" and gives the unborn "equal right to life as the mother".

"I have no words to express my gratitude to the people of Ireland at this historic moment", he said.

The poll also projected that about 66 percent of men and 72 percent of women supported the change.

Reform in Ireland also raised the prospect that women in Northern Ireland, where abortion is still illegal, may start travelling south of the border.

Attention has now shifted to Northern Ireland and the prime minister is facing a growing number of calls to bring the laws in line with the rest of the UK.

Although not on the ballot paper, the "No" camp sought to seize on government plans to allow abortions with no restriction up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy if the referendum is carried, calling it a step too far for most voters.

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Saturday's vote inserts a clause into the constitution which now allows legislators to put forward new laws on abortion.