Thousands Of Irish Citizens Fly Home To Vote Yes In Abortion Referendum
The Prime Minister had already faced calls from MPs across the Commons - including within her own Cabinet - to resolve the "anomalous" situation in Northern Ireland following the overwhelming referendum result in Ireland in favour of liberalisation.
"The day Ireland stepped out from under the last of our shadows and into the light", he added. But the issue is complicated by tricky politics and deep mistrust, leaving most analysts doubting that the province will make changes anytime soon.
A "Yes" vote to repeal Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which states a fetus has an equal right to life as the mother, would leave three places in Europe where abortion is illegal unless a woman's life is at risk: the microstates of Andorra and San Marino and Malta.
Varadkar's government now plans to quickly draw up legislation allowing abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Irish citizens living overseas who want to participate in the country's abortionreferendum are flying home to cast their vote - with some even offering to pay others' travel costs. Since 2013, they are allowed only when the mother's life is at risk, including from suicide.
"Yes" campaign supporters react as the results of the votes are announced.
"It's incredible how the Irish at home and overseas came together to make this happen", she said.
Majority Catholic Ireland is now in a heated debate over legalizing pregnancy termination, which is banned under current laws.
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar's centre-right government backs lifting the ban and allowing abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. They allow women to travel overseas for abortions and to access information about abortion services from other countries, respectively.
Dozens of Irish emigrants in Canada have shared their stories online, with many pledging either to fly home for the vote, or to sponsor other emigrants who are eligible to do so.
"What we have done is begin to dismantle the shame and stigma that was around this issue for so many years".
The church was, in fact, largely absent from the referendum campaign. Anti-abortion campaigners actively discouraged its participation, preferring to emphasize moral values and human rights rather than religion, possibly to avoid being tarnished by the church-related scandals.
With a high turnout of 64.13%, 1,429,98, or 66.4%, voted for the amendment Friday and 723,632, or 33.6%, against, according to the country's Referendum Commission.
"This is devastating for the Roman Catholic hierarchy", said Gail McElroy, professor of politics at Trinity College Dublin.
The result caught most observers and voters off guard.
"I don't think it's an easy choice at all", said Dylan Mullarkey, 20, a psychology student from Sligo in western Ireland.
Terminations would also be permitted in cases of fatal foetal abnormality.
Roscommon, in the rural interior, the only county to say no to same-sex marriage, also voted yes in the abortionreferendum.
She was told by hospital staff she couldn't have an abortion because of the laws in the majority-Catholic country.
As the choir sang, one woman held a small sign reading "Vote No. Love them at every stage of life". "You may feel that the country has taken the wrong turn, is no longer a country you recognize. I would like to reassure you that Ireland is still the same country today as it was before, just a little more tolerant, open and respectful".
However, her Sinn Fein party colleague and vocal anti-abortion campaigner Peadar Toibin called on Irish people to vote No to "abortion on demand".
Labour said it was now "looking at legislative options" to see how that could be achieved by Westminster.
While the two main parties of Ireland, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, are not taking official positions on the referendum, politicians are permitted to campaign on a personal basis.
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