Ireland votes down abortion law by wide margin

By Sam Howard  |  Updated May 26, 2018 at 1:52 PM
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May 26 (UPI) -- An initiative to repeal Ireland's abortion law was overwhelmingly successful, results released Saturday indicate.

Once votes from all 40 constituencies were counted, the final total indicated 66.4 percent of voters cast ballots to repeal the country's eighth amendment to its constitution in Friday's referendum, Irish broadcaster RTE reported.

The final results confirmed what many suspected the result would be. The Irish Times newspaper predicted 68 percent of voters cast ballots to change the law in an exit poll published earlier.

The country has had one of Europe's most restrictive abortion laws, which is enshrined in its constitution. Under the law, fetuses in early pregnancy are guaranteed citizenship status and women who have an illegal abortion could face up to 14 years in prison.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the law.

The referendum could pave the law for legislation to allow for abortions as late as 12 weeks into pregnancy, or later in cases threatening a woman's health or in the event of fatal fetal abnormality.

"Remarkable day," Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar wrote Saturday on Twitter. "A quiet revolution has taken place, a great act of democracy."

Varadkar said he'd like to pass legislation for a new abortion law by the end of the year, according to The Guardian.

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