Published: Mon, May 28, 2018
Worldwide | By Angelina Lucas

Ireland's Gay Prime Minister Celebrates Nation's Vote to Overturn Abortion Ban

Ireland's Gay Prime Minister Celebrates Nation's Vote to Overturn Abortion Ban

Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to repeal a restrictive abortion ban from its constitution, the country's prime minister said on Saturday.

As crowds gathered in the courtyard of Dublin Castle on Saturday to celebrate Ireland's landslide referendum vote to repeal a ban on abortions, the chant broke out of "Savita!" The Irish Times newspaper predicted 68 percent of voters cast ballots to change the law in an exit poll published earlier.

The plan is to allow abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and in special cases after the first trimester, likely ending the trail of Irish women who go elsewhere - mostly to neighboring Britain - by the thousands each year for abortions they can't get at home.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar hailed the result, calling it a "quiet revolution" in Ireland.

"What we see is the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland over the last couple of decades", Varadkar, who became Ireland's first openly gay prime minister a year ago, told journalists in Dublin.

The decision would seek to take some of the pressure off families between now and new legislation overturning the ban, which is expected to pass by the end of the year.

The law was tweaked in 2013 to allow terminations if the mother's life is at risk.

"You can't have democracy without fundamental human rights, and the women of Northern Ireland have suffered for long enough".

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He campaigned for the change, which he said represented the compassionate choice for women forced to travel to England for terminations or taking unregulated abortion pills.

At the same time, any attempt to change the abortion law will be strongly opposed by the DUP, the Tories' allies at Westminster, whose members believe that the time has not come for such reforms in Northern Ireland.

Her Tory colleague, Penny Mordaunt, the International Development Secretary, who is also responsible for the women and equalities brief within Government, said the referendum signalled a "historic and great day for Ireland" and a "hopeful one for Northern Ireland".

"A vote for the freedom to choose, a vote for women's rights, a vote for women's control over their bodies, a vote for women's health & safety, a vote towards equality", she proudly said.

On Friday, citizens of the Republic of Ireland voted in favor of reforming the country's strict abortion laws.

"This is a monumental day for women in Ireland", Orla O'Connor, co-director of the Together for Yes group, said.

In a tweet following yesterday's referendum result, which showed a two-to-one Yes vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, Dr Martin said he will pay tribute to those who "made such a huge effort to remind us that in pregnancy we are dealing with two lives - both in need of love, respect and protection".

Many lawmakers who campaigned for a "No" vote said they would not try to block the bill. "No woman in the United Kingdom should be denied access to a safe, legal abortion", said Dawn Butler, Labour's shadow minister for women and equalities. She died on October 28 and her dead resulted in a massive uproar - nationally as well as internationally and it led to a movement to repeal the eighth amendment which prohibited abortion.

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