Ireland Appears to Have Voted in a Landslide to Repeal Abortion Ban


The results of Ireland’s vote to repeal their eighth amendment, which bans abortion, will not be officially available until Saturday. But exit polls suggest that citizens have voted overwhelmingly to end the ban, the Irish Times reports.

The poll was conducted amongst 4,000 voters, and indicated a landslide vote in favor of repeal at 68 per cent to 32 per cent. It’s believed there was a large swing towards the end of the campaign, as visibility on the issue rose. Thousands of repeal supporters returned to Ireland to cast their ballot, much like when gay marriage was legalized in the country in 2015.

During the campaign, the story of a woman named Savita Halappanavar was again used to push for change. Halappanavar died in 2012, the Guardian reports, after suffering a miscarriage in Galway. She went to the hospital 17 weeks pregnant and in extreme pain, and was told a miscarriage was likely inevitable. However, she was refused a number of times after asking for an abortion, because a fetal heartbeat was detected. Abortion is against the law in Ireland even in cases of “rape, incest or fatal fetal abnormality.” She died from sepsis eight days after being admitted, at the age of 31.

Her death sparked widespread protests, and calls for legislation to prevent similar instances of medical negligence. In 2013, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act was passed, which outlined some instances where an abortion can be performed, according to the Evening Standard, largely because of her case. Halappanavar is being remembered this week with a mural in Dublin, where visitors are leaving flowers and messages for voters to say yes to repeal:

Her father, Andanappa Yalagi, told the Guardian, “I hope the people of Ireland remember my daughter Savita on the day of the referendum, and that what happened to her won’t happen to any other family.”

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