03:13 GMT19 April 2021
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    In a two to one win, a referendum in Ireland on Friday saw the repeal of a long-standing ban on abortion.

    Ireland has officially voted to drop its Eight Constitutional Amendment, claiming equal rights to a mother and a fetus, that had previously acted to impose a ban on abortions in the heavily religious nation.

    According to the BBC, 66.4 percent voted in favor of dropping the amendment, almost as much as was predicted by a Times/Ipsos exit poll. An estimated 33.6 percent — almost two times less — sought to keep the restrictive and unpopular amendment in place.

    Donegal, the northernmost county of Ireland, was the only region to vote in favor, with some 54 percent seeking to retain the ban.

    In the wake of the ‘landslide' referendum, Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who campaigned in favor of repealing the legislation, said it was "a historic day for Ireland," and noted that a "quiet revolution" had taken place.

    The referendum result showed that the Irish "trust and respect women to make their own decision and choices," he said at an enthusiastic celebratory rally at Dublin Castle Friday.

    Varadkar also addressed those who voted to retain the amendment, long seen as a form of repression against women in the country

    "I know today is not welcome and you may feel this country has taken the wrong turn, that this country is one you no longer recognize," he said.

    "I want to reassure you that Ireland today is the same as it was last week, but more tolerant, open and respectful."

    ​In the wording of the now repealed Eighth Amendment, women in Ireland could only have an abortion if they could prove to the court or to the medical community that their lives were threatened. In other dire cases, including rape incidents and fetal abnormalities, an abortion was not an option. With the repeal of the amendment, women regain the ability to undergo the procedure up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy, and even further, if certain medical conditions are indicated.

    ​Ironically, the referendum puts Northern Ireland, where abortion remains banned, in a difficult position, as both the Republic of Ireland and the UK mainland recognize a women's right to make her own choices, and have legalized the procedure. Prior to the Friday referendum, both Irish and Northern Irish women were forced to travel to the UK mainland for an operation.

    ​Those who campaigned for the retention of the ban remain angry nonetheless. The Save The 8th campaign called the referendum results a "tragedy of historic proportions", BBC reported.

    ​Echoing an often violent and militant sentiment espoused by many in the US, abortion-foe spokesman John McGuirk vowed that No campaigners would continue to protest, "if and when abortion clinics are opened in Ireland."


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