- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 26, 2018

Irish voters have overwhelmingly cast their ballots in favor of repealing a constitutional amendment banning abortion.

Over 66 percent of roughly 2.1 million voters supported eliminating the nation’s Eighth Amendment, election official Barry Ryan said Saturday, opening the door for Ireland’s government to consider legislation permitting abortions during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“What we’ve seen is the culmination of a quiet revolution that’s been taking place in Ireland over the past 20 years,” said Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a center-right politician who supported repealing the abortion ban.

“The people have spoken,” Mr. Varadkar said following Friday’s vote. “The people have said that we want a modern constitution for a modern country, that we trust women and we respect them to make the right decision and the right choices about their health care.”

Adopted in 1983, the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland gives an unborn child the same right to life as their mother, effectively outlawing abortions except in instances where pregnancy would pose “a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother.” A subsequent amendment was added allowing Irish women and girls to seek abortions abroad, and about 170,000 of them done so since 1980, The Journal reported.

Domestic abortions are largely outlawed, however, and an illegal abortion is punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment under existing law.

Ireland’s government will be posed to consider legislation that would permit abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The referendum results “paint a very sad state of affairs,” tweeted Cora Sherlock, a prominent Irish pro-life campaigner. “But those who voted No should take heart. Abortion on demand would deal Ireland a tragic blow but the pro-life movement will rise to any challenge it faces. Let’s go into tomorrow with this in mind.”

Mr. Varadkar intends to have a new abortion law in place by 2019, BBC reported. If the current ban is repealed, the number of places in Europe that outlaw abortions in most circumstances will dwindle down to only a handful of regions including Northern Ireland, likely pushing lawmakers there to weigh reversing course as well.

“For decades, Irish women have been forced to travel hundreds of miles to our clinics in England, often alone, at a huge personal and emotional cost,” said Clare Murphy of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service. “Now more than ever it is time for the UK government to show the same respect for the women of Northern Ireland.”

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