Ireland vote strikes down abortion ban nwadg types of electricity generation


DUBLIN — Irish voters overwhelmingly repealed a constitutional ban on abortions and asked the country’s Parliament to enact laws that reflect the popular will and make abortions legal in the country for the first time, final results from a historic referendum showed Saturday.

Voters in Friday’s referendum supported rescinding the ban, adopted in 1983 as the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, by 66.4 percent to 33.6 percent, the final count showed. The size of the win for abortion rights exceeded expectations and was cast as a historic victory for women’s rights.

"No more doctors telling their patients there is nothing that can be done for them in their own country," he said. "No more lonely journeys across the Irish Sea. No more stigma. The veil of secrecy is lifted. No more isolation. The burden of shame is gone."

John McGuirk, spokesman for the Save the 8th group, told Irish television Saturday that many Irish citizens would not recognize the country in which they were waking up. The group said on its website that the referendum’s outcome was a "tragedy of historic proportions," but McGuirk said the vote must be respected.

The referendum will remove the Eighth Amendment, which required Irish authorities to defend the lives of a woman and a fetus as equals under the law from the moment of conception. In practical terms, the amendment outlawed all abortions until 2014, when terminations in rare cases when a woman’s life was at risk started being allowed.

The outcome signaled the end of an era in which thousands of women each year had been forced either to travel abroad or to buy pills illegally online to terminate pregnancies, risking a 14-year jail sentence. The government has said that general practitioners — doctors who are the first stop for patients — will be asked to provide abortions, although they will still be allowed to conscientiously object to terminations at their clinics.

The church was, in fact, largely absent from the referendum campaign. Anti-abortion campaigners actively discouraged its participation, preferring to emphasize moral values and human rights rather than religion, possibly to avoid being tarnished by the church-related scandals.

"To those who voted no, I know today is not welcome," Varadkar said. "You may feel that the country has taken the wrong turn, is no longer a country you recognize. I would like to reassure you that Ireland is still the same country today as it was before, just a little more tolerant, open and respectful."

For many supporters of legalizing abortion, the result was an affirmation of their respect and acceptance by society. Ireland "is taking the proper steps to separate church and state and to move forward as a more progressive country," said Conor Flynn, a 22-year-old student.

Una Mullally, a prominent campaigner for abortion rights, said the issue was more than just a medical procedure, but was about how women have been oppressed. "All of us have underestimated our country," she said before breaking down in tears.

Still, many who voted in favor of same-sex marriage and laws easing rules around abortion — such as allowing women to travel abroad to get it — found the latest measure a step too far. Abortion is still a highly personal issue for many voters, shaped by experiences such as miscarriages or fetal abnormalities.

"I feel very emotional," she said. "I’m 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."