Ireland's No campaigners concede defeat in abortion referendum


Those taking part in the referendum were asked whether they wanted to repeal or retain a part of the constitution known as the Eighth Amendment, which says an unborn child has the same right to life as a pregnant woman.

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After that, abortions will only be allowed until the 24th week of pregnancy if there is a risk to a woman's life, or a risk of serious harm to the physical or mental health of a woman. "Women living in counties with highly restrictive abortion laws would have cause for hope that significant change can be achieved".

Irish law says abortions can only be performed in cases where the mother's life is in danger, a provision added in 2013.

"I did a little volunteering to canvas, and when you go out to houses, talk to people, they really tell you their mixed opinions, so there's very complex views and I think it could be quite close".

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Ireland's eighth amendment was adopted in a national referendum in 1983, and the difference between that result and this one suggests profound transformations of the once-solidly Catholic country over the last 35 years.

The counting of votes will begin on Saturday morning local time (Saturday night NZT), with a result expected early on Saturday evening (Sunday morning NZT).

The big cities - Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway - are in many ways typical Northern European cities, with cosmopolitan voters and low levels of religious observance.

But the Yes camp, which portrayed itself as modernising and in step with worldwide opinion, insisted repeal would demonstrate Ireland's compassion for thousands of Irish women forced to travel to England for the procedure.

As with the gay marriage referendum, those using the #hometovote hashtag on Twitter appeared overwhelmingly to back change. Savita Halappanavar has now become the face of the campaign in Ireland. Ireland is one of the few countries in the European Union that does not allow those overseas to vote via post or in embassies.

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A subsequent referendum made it legal for women to travel to have abortions, and for information about abortions to be provided (previous to this, ads for abortion providers had been cut out of the pages of United Kingdom women's magazines that were imported into Ireland) but the ban on abortion was not rolled back. After that, the woman can have abortion if she still intends to terminate her pregnancy.

McGuirk said it will now be relatively easy for the government to pass more liberal abortion laws in the parliament.

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.

The Catholic Church is also in favor of the ban.

On Saturday, Ireland's Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said she is grateful and emotional over with the apparent decision of voters to repeal the constitutional ban on abortions in Friday's landmark referendum.

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