Exit polls show that voters in Ireland might have just legalized abortion by a landslide

Exit polls show that voters in Ireland might have just legalized abortion by a landslide
Irish voters went to the polls on Friday, to determine whether or not to repeal the eight amendment to their constitution, which bans abortion. (Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Irish citizens voted on Friday over whether or not to lift the ban on abortion in the country, and exit polls are showing that the bid to allow the practice appears to have been quite successful.

In 1983, the eight amendment to the Irish constitution was ratified, which outlawed abortion in the country. Since then, roughly 170,000 Irish women have traveled to other countries to have pregnancies terminated.

What did the polls show?

A poll conducted by RTE Television showed that almost 70 percent of respondents voted to repeal the abortion ban, and another poll for The Irish Times was similar — showing 68 percent of those surveyed voted for repealing the eight amendment, against 32 percent who said abortions should still be banned in the country.

The results also exposed large divisions between age groups, with voters over 65 mostly voting against repealing the ban on abortions, and 18 to 24-year-olds voting for repeal at roughly 87 percent.

Ireland has traditionally been a devoutly Catholic country, making the exit polling speculations even more remarkable.

How are people reacting?

Deputy prime minister of Ireland, Tanaiste Simon Coveney, said in response to the preliminary polling, “Thank you to everybody who voted today – democracy can be so powerful on days like today – looks like a stunning result that will bring about a fundamental change for the better.”

A prominent pro-life advocate in the country, Cora Sherlock Tweeted in response to news of the surveys: “Exit polls, if accurate, paint a very sad state of affairs tonight. 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 challenges it faces. Let’s go into tomorrow with this in mind.”

50-year-old Irish voter Finbar O’Regan told his own story, of his mother being sent away to England to give birth to him and have him adopted rather than aborted. He said, “I’m a staunch No. It’s the life of an unborn baby. I’m one of the lucky ones.

“I’m very emotional.”