Exit polls in Ireland point to landslide abortion rights victory

Here's where people will gather ahead of the referendum announcement tomorrow

Here's where people will gather ahead of the referendum announcement tomorrow

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?

Voters are choosing between retaining the Eighth Amendment, which says an unborn child has an equal right to life as the mother, or replacing it to include provision for "the regulation of termination of pregnancy".

That effectively bans all abortions in Ireland, except in cases when the woman's life is at risk. The ballots will be counted from 9am today, with the result expected this evening.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who is in favour of change and has called the referendum a once-in-a-generation chance, said earlier on Friday that he was "quietly confident" that the high turnout was a good sign.

Each year, it's estimated 3,500 Irish women travel overseas, mostly to Britain, to terminate pregnancies - and about 2,000 more illegally obtain abortion pills or administer the procedure themselves.

Sarah said: "This referendum will determine the future".

"The Eighth Amendment to our Constitution gives protection to the most vulnerable and voiceless members of our society", the letter added.

In short - it looks likely Ireland will shortly be making abortion freely available to women.

The Irish government's push to liberalize the laws is in contrast to the United States, where abortion has always been legal, but President Donald Trump backs stripping federal funding from women's health care clinics that offer abortions.

Thousands of Irish citizens have been returning home to vote in a referendum on whether to liberalize abortion laws. For advocates of repeal, a "yes" vote would be a landmark in Irish women's fight for equality and the right to control their own bodies.

Chris Garvin, 20, who works in human resources, said: "I'm not going to try and sway people's opinions but it's a very, very important matter and I think it's going to affect everybody's lives in some way".

In response, the Social Democrats said it was "encouraged" by the polls.

Seeking or providing an abortion in Ireland was a criminal offense that carries up to 14 years behind bars.

According to government plans, abortions would be permitted within the first twelve weeks of pregnancy.

As previously noted on Townhall, "the Irish referendum is on article 40.3.3, better known as Ireland's 8amendment". A second exit poll will be released later on Friday with vote-counting to begin at 0800 GMT on Saturday.

Activists were out on a final push for votes on Thursday, attempting to convince wavering voters in what has been an emotionally-charged campaign.

Yesterday, nine Irish women will have travelled to England to terminate a pregnancy.

Abortion has been illegal in Ireland since 1861.

"If there is a Yes vote Ireland will be the same place, just a place that's a little bit more compassionate and a little bit more understanding than it has been in the past", emphasized Varadkar.

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