Ireland has voted by a landslide margin to legalise abortion.
The vote, which took place on Friday, was on whether the Eighth Amendment should be repealed and whether the country should legalise abortion up until the twelfth week of a woman’s pregnancy.
An overnight exit poll run by IPSOS/MRBI for The Irish Times had predicted a victory for repealing the amendment at 68% to 32%. Sampling started at 7am and took place in 160 locations in every constituency, with over 4,500 voters sampled. Over 70% of women polled voted to repeal the amendment, compared to 65% of men. As the interactive infographic below shows, both urban and rural areas and all age groups under 65 voted overwhelmingly in favour, with 87% of voters aged 18-24 voting ‘Yes’.
In the end, The Irish Times‘s exit poll proved near exact as the final result produced a two-thirds to one-third majority in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment. Turnout was at 64.1%. With the exception of Donegal, all 40 constituencies of Ireland voted in favour of repeal.
The repeal campaign gained huge traction in the last week of campaigning, with #HomeToVote showing accounts of people flying to Ireland to vote in the referendum, and people offering to pay for flights and pick people up from airports.
— Cara (@Caraquest) May 24, 2018
The Taoiseach or Prime Minister of Ireland, Leo Varadkar, campaigned in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment. Describing the result as a ‘quiet revolution’ for Ireland, Mr Varadkar stated that the Irish Government will proceed with passing the necessary legislation to repeal the Eighth Amendment by the end of this year.
Reacting to the result, Simon Harris, Ireland’s Health Minister and arguably the politician most associated with the Yes campaign, said:
Under the 8th Amendment, women in crisis pregnancy have been told to take the plane or take the boat. Today we tell them – ‘Take our hand’.
The Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, who have representation in both Northern Ireland and Eire, have already made clear their hope for Northern Ireland’s abortion law to change next. Sinn Fein’s leader, Mary Lou McDonald, was joined by her Deputy, Michelle O’Neill, outside Dublin Castle on Saturday, where they held up a sign saying: ‘The north is next’.
UK’s Minister for Women and Equalities, Penny Mordaunt, Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and leader of Northern Ireland’s Alliance Party, Naomi Long, have also shared their hopes that the referendum result in Ireland will see abortion become legalised in Northern Ireland. Women in Northern Ireland have had to travel to the rest of the UK to seek an abortion. Until an amendment brought forward by Labour backbench MP Stella Creasy last year, Northern Irish women were denied access to NHS-funded abortions when seeking an abortion in the UK, outside of Northern Ireland.
The referendum result is a higher majority in favour of change from the status quo than in the May 2015 same-sex marriage vote, where 62% voted in favour of legalising same sex marriage in Ireland.