Ireland Votes to Repeal Abortion Ban

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Ireland's Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said she was grateful and emotional over the apparent decision of voters to repeal the constitutional ban on abortions in Friday's landmark referendum.

At the time of reporting, exit polls show that a staggering 69 percent of people voted in favour of repealing the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution, paving the way for the legalisation of abortion.

Irish citizens voted on Friday over whether or not to lift the ban on abortion in the country, and exit polls are showing that the bid to allow the practice appears to have been quite successful.

The prime minister, a medical doctor who came to power past year, spoke to RTE News in advance of the announcement of the referendum's official results, expected later Saturday. More than half of the country's 40 regions had been counted by 4 p.m. local time and showed 68 percent supporting the amendment's repeal.

At least 170,000 Irish women are thought to have left the country to have abortions since 1980.

Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, a campaigner for the yes vote, has said that he hopes to pass the proposed legislation within six months.

Others made the journey to "Save the Eighth" - the 1983 amendment to the constitution that equates the life of the unborn child with the life of the mother. The poll has a margin of error of 1.6 percent.

After 12 weeks abortions will be allowed in certain circumstances, such as if there is a risk to the women's life or serious risk to her health, and two doctors are asked if a termination can be permitted.

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He campaigned for the change, which he said represented the compassionate choice for women forced to travel to England for terminations or taking unregulated abortion pills.

Some politicians appealing for a "No" vote have suggested in recent days that if the referendum fails, the constitution could instead be amended again to allow for abortions in cases such as rape, incest, and fatal foetal abnormality.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says the country has voted resoundingly Yes to liberalise its strict abortion laws. In 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by a public vote, and Leo Varadkar, the gay son of an Indian immigrant, became the country's leader past year.

However No campaigners have described the result as "a tragedy of historic proportions".

The Irish government is planning to bring legislation before the Dáil, providing for abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy, with a three-day "cooling off" period before abortion medication is administered.

He said the government will now move quickly to legalize abortion.

"I strongly feel that the young daughters of Ireland should not have the same fate as Savita". Amnesty International Ireland and the Abortion Rights Campaign, for instance, were required to return political grants of $150,000 and $25,000, respectively, to George Soros's Open Society Foundations.