Ireland's pro-life campaign concedes defeat in abortion referendum

May 28, 2018, 03:04
Ireland's pro-life campaign concedes defeat in abortion referendum

Abortion rights groups in Ireland are claiming victory as official results show voters have repealed a constitutional ban on abortions.

Referendum returning officer Barry Ryan said a majority of more than 700,000 voted Yes to repeal.

"This is a monumental day for women in Ireland", said Orla O'Connor, co-director of the Together for Yes group.

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.

Women who have unsanctioned abortions in Northern Ireland face life imprisonment under 19th-century legislation still in place.

Like many Irish expatriates who returned home to vote, Coogan says she was motivated by a desire to, in her words, "create a better Ireland for our generation should we want to return, but (also) for the generations that are going to follow us". About 723,000 voters wanted to retain the ban.

In Dublin, many voters welcomed the expected overwhelming result.

The decisive outcome of the landmark referendum held Friday exceeded expectations and was cast as a historic victory for women's rights.

"It is a landslide opinion in favour of repeal of the abortion laws that has supported our cause", Savita's father Andanappa Yalagi told PTI. A year later the law was amended to allow abortions in cases when a woman's life is at risk-but didn't allow the procedure in cases of rape or incest or fetal abnormality. Anti-abortion campaigners described the decision as a "tragedy of historic proportions".

The Irish Times survey suggested women voted by 70 percent in favour of the proposal and men by 65 percent.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, centre, reacts with a member of the "Yes" campaign.

Results released on Saturday showed 66.4 percent of people voted "Yes" and just over 30 percent voted "No" in Friday's Irish referendum on easing restrictions on abortions.

Katherine Zappone, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, said she is confident new abortion legislation can be approved by parliament and put in place before the end of the year.

Sarah Wollaston, the chair of the health select committee and a lawmaker in May's party, said she would support the proposed amendment and said Northern Ireland should at least be given a vote to decide.

"I think it's a very sad day for Ireland. when the people have voted for abortion", said Cora Sherlock of the Love Both campaign. "This has been a great exercise in democracy and the people have spoken". No social issue has divided Ireland's 4.8 million people as sharply as abortion, which was pushed up the political agenda by the death in 2012 of a 31-year-old Indian immigrant from a septic miscarriage after she was refused a termination.

If the "yes" forces seeking a constitutional change prevail as the polls suggest, Ireland's parliament will be charged with coming up with new abortion laws.

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