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Ireland Votes To Lift Its Abortion Ban, Exit Polls Show

Left-wing Republican party leader Mary Lou McDonald celebrates the "Yes" campaign in Dublin as the results from the referendum begin to come in on Saturday. They show overwhelming support to lift a ban on abortion.
Left-wing Republican party leader Mary Lou McDonald celebrates the "Yes" campaign in Dublin as the results from the referendum begin to come in on Saturday. They show overwhelming support to lift a ban on abortion.
Peter Morrison

The people of Ireland voted by a landslide to change their socially conservative country's constitution and legalize abortion, according to exit polls.

An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI poll late Friday suggested a "stunning victory" of 68 percent to 32 percent. "Yes" voters want to repeal the eighth amendment, which was voted into the constitution through a public referendum in 1983 and bans nearly all abortion.

Support came not only from major cities like Dublin but rural areas.

Younger voters showed more support for overturning the amendment than older voters, according to RTÉ exit poll projections.

Among people aged 18 to 24, 87.6 percent supported the repeal, compared to 63.7 percent of people aged 50 to 64. Voters over the age of 65 were the only ones to come out against the repeal according to projections, with 58.7 percent voting "No."


The poll also projected that about 66 percent of men and 72 percent of women supported the change.

A week prior to the vote, polls showed the "yes" side was ahead but that its lead had narrowed from earlier surveys.

Mary Lou McDonald — Irish political party Sinn Fein's first new leader in 34 years — tweeted, "I'm very pleased with the definitive result, the debate on the 8th was done on an all-island basis. We now need a single legal framework that allows for women to have access to the care that they need."

The first official results have begun to come in, indicating a decisive win for abortion rights campaigners. Officials in Ireland say a final national result may not be announced until Saturday evening.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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