Exit poll says Irish vote overwhelmingly to dump pro-life amendment

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Ireland has voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment of its constitution, two major exit polls are projecting.

A poll conducted by RTE Television showed that nearly 70 percent of respondents voted to repeal the abortion ban, and another poll for The Irish Times was similar - showing 68 percent of those surveyed voted for repealing the eight amendment, against 32 percent who said abortions should still be banned in the country. RTE's exit poll showed a similar split on the vote, with an estimated 69.4% voting "Yes" and 30.6% voting "No", according to the exit poll.

Official counting of Friday's vote begins Saturday morning, and an official result will be announced Saturday afternoon.

"In 1979, Americans United for Life played a pivotal role in the creation of the 8th Amendment, requiring the equal protection of unborn human life and the life of the mother and making Ireland one of the strongest pro-life nations in Europe", Catherine Glenn Foster, President of Americans United for Life said in a statement.

Varadkar's government has proposed that if the amendment is repealed, abortion will be allowed in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and between 12 and 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.

It now appears Ireland's politicians will soon be able to change the law to allow women to have abortions. Picture: AAPCurrently, if a woman falls pregnant in Ireland it is illegal for her to seek an abortion under the eighth amendment.

Varadkar said the large margin of victory will give his government a greater mandate when drafting abortion legislation that will be submitted for parliamentary approval in a matter of months.

An exit poll has suggested 68% of voters in Ireland have backed changing abortion laws.

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For decades, many Irish people saw the amendment as a symbol of the country's deeply-held Catholic faith.

I still can't believe she's not with us.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Saturday hailed a resounding referendum majority in favour of overturning the abortion ban as the "culmination of a quiet revolution".

Abortions are only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman's life is at risk or there is a permanent or serious risk to her physical or mental health.

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

It was also the tragic case of an Indian dentist, 31-year-old Savita Halappanavar, who died in Ireland in 2012, because of complications form a natural miscarriage after abortion was denied to her, that ignited the pro-choice campaign.

The result looks set to be another hammer blow to the Roman Catholic Church's authority in Ireland, coming three years after referendum voters backed legalising same-sex marriage by 62 percent.

"What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions", the Save The 8th group said. Amnesty International Ireland and the Abortion Rights Campaign, for instance, were required to return political grants of $150,000 and $25,000, respectively, to George Soros's Open Society Foundations.

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