Irish PM hails a 'quiet revolution' after landslide referendum on abortion

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Last night's exit polls indicated that the Irish public had voted to repeal the eighth amendment by nearly 70 percent.

To the disappointment of pro-lifers, early results show more than 69 percent of Irish citizens voted "Yes" in the referendum that effectively legalized abortion in the country.

If the partial results hold up, the referendum would likely end the need for thousands of Irish women to travel overseas - mostly to neighboring Britain - for abortions they can't get at home. The exit poll said repeal was supported by 87.6% of voters 18-24 years old; 84.6% of voters 25-34 years old; 72.8% of voters 35-49 years old; and 63.7% of voters 50-64 years old. A shrine dedicated to her sprang up on Friday, adorned by flowers and messages from those who voted Yes to the proposed repeal of the Eighth Amendment. With a turnout of 53 per cent which amounted to 1.2 million people, almost 67 per cent voted Yes and over 33 per cent voted No.

A total of 3.3 million citizens were registered to vote in Friday's referendum.

Its repeal will mark a significant victory for women's rights in a country that only legalised divorce in 1995.

"We are deeply saddened to learn that many Irish people voted against love and life by repealing the 8 amendment", Jeanne Mancini, President of March for Life commented.

"I feel very emotional", Zappone said.

Varadkar said the country had voted resoundingly Yes to liberalise its strict abortion laws.

People pass a mural as Ireland goes to the polls to vote in the referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution.

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The amendment reads: "The state acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right".

"Abortion on demand would deal Ireland a tragic blow but the pro-life movement will rise to any challenge it faces", said prominent anti-abortion campaigner Cora Sherlock.

After official results began to be announced on Saturday, politicians on both sides agreed that the referendum had passed by a large margin.

The United Nations Human Rights Committee has criticized the law.

"Today I believe we have voted for the next generation", said Varadkar, who supported repeal and said his government will move quickly to establish new legislation to govern legal abortions.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who had campaigned in favour of liberalisation, praised the country's "quiet revolution".

The first vote I ever cast was in one of the six referendaums that Ireland has had on abortion.

Those opposed to abortion vowed Saturday to now take their fight to the Irish Parliament, where lawmakers will have to bring about legislation allowing for terminations in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy - and later in cases where there is a risk to the mother's life or the fetus is not expected to survive.