The Irish have overwhelmingly voted for the liberalisation of the country’s abortion law, The Irish Times reported. About 66.4% of the people voted to repeal the Constitution’s eighth amendment that effectively bans terminations.
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said the expected overwhelming win for the ‘yes’ side was the “culmination of a quiet revolution in Ireland”, The Guardian reported. This process of change had started a number of decades back, he added. The Irish have voted overwhelmingly to amend the laws so that “we have a modern Constitution for a modern people”, he said.
Varadkar said he hoped the law to allow abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy would be in place by the end of the year.
As exit polls came in, the main group opposing the move conceded on Saturday that it has lost the May 25 referendum by an overwhelming margin.
“Like many of you I am brokenhearted about the apparent result, and it’s many implications, which go way beyond abortion,” John McGuirk, the communications director for “Save the 8th” group that campaigned against amending the law, wrote on Facebook. “I fear that over the coming years, more and more women and their families will sadly learn that it was never the journey that was lonely, but the decision, and that it was not the country that is cruel, but the decision.”
The group, in a statement on its website, said the voters had committed “a tragedy of historic proportions”.
The outcome also showed that the country was not divided on the matter any longer.
Ireland’s Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said she was grateful to the voters for repealing the eighth amendment. “I feel very emotional,” Zappone said. “I am especially grateful to the women of Ireland who came forward to provide their personal testimony about the hard times that they endured, the stress and the trauma that they experienced because of the eighth amendment.”
One of the cases from Ireland that caught global attention was that of 31-year-old dentist Savita Halappanavar, who died of septicemia in 2012 following a miscarriage at 17 weeks. Though doctors had known she might miscarry, they refused to abort the foetus as they had detected a foetal heartbeat. Three years later, an inquiry committee revealed that Halappanavar did not receive proper medical attention and a series of wrong decisions led to her death.
Halappanavar’s parents told The Irish Times that they are “really, really happy” with the result of the referendum. They suggested the amended law be called “Savita’s law”.