Ireland Votes In 'Once-In-A-Generation' Abortion Referendum

The referendum on whether to repeal the country's strict anti-abortion law is being seen by anti-abortion activists as

Ireland appears poised to overwhelmingly overturn a constitutional amendment that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, according to a exit poll.

Dublin voter Helen, 47, who did not want to give her surname and is now unemployed after suffering cancer, said her radiation treatment would have been stopped had she been pregnant, under existing laws giving equal right to life to expectant mothers and unborn babies.

Polls opened across the country at 7am on Friday, with voters opting to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution - which prohibits terminations unless a mother's life is in danger.

The poll released by Ireland's national broadcaster RTE shortly after polling stations closed on Friday night predicted that almost 70% voted in in favor of repealing the Eighth Amendment to Ireland's Constitution. The ballots will be counted from 9am today, with the result expected this evening. The country's deputy prime minister, Simon Coveney, said, "Thank you to everybody who voted today - democracy can be so powerful on days like today - looks like a stunning result that will bring about a fundamental change for the better".

Alternatively, many Irish women seek alternative methods to end unwanted pregnancies, such as ordering abortion pills online.

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

If the Eighth Amendment is overturned, it would be a huge "tragedy", said Kristan Hawkins, President of Students for Life of America.

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

Abortion has always been illegal in Ireland, but in 1983, pro-life activists pressured the government to make future abortion legislation more hard and a referendum to amend the constitution was held. One in southwest Dublin offered hugs to people who voted in favour of repealing the ban.

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The amendment requires authorities to equally protect the right to life of a mother and that of a foetus, from the moment of conception. "I am conscious that in 1983 there was only a turnout of 55%, most people made a decision to sit out and I hope that won't happen on this occasion and I am really encouraging everyone to come out and vote", he said.

The referendum follows a ruling by the Irish Supreme Court this year that said unborn have no constitutional rights.

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

I have supported pro-choice since I knew what it meant at the age of 10.

Voting will continue until 22:00 local time on Friday (9am this morning NZT).

If the amendment is removed and the issue moves to parliament, the government proposes that terminations be allowed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

However, another illegal voter, now based in Spain, said she felt very guilty about voting.

Ireland's government has vowed to adopt legislation liberalizing abortion protocols in the event of a "Yes" victory.

Many expatriate Irish have travelled home to vote in one of the few European Union countries that does not allow those overseas to vote via post or in embassies.

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