'Monumental day for women': Ireland votes overwhelmingly to repeal abortion ban

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Yes campaigners hold posters calling for British-ruled Northern Ireland to liberalize its strict abortion laws, as campaigners wait for the official result in the Irish abortion referendum vote at Dublin Castle, Dublin on May 26, 2018.

On Friday, Irish voters overturned the 8th Amendment to Ireland's Constitution, which made it illegal for women to have abortions in the country.

"What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions", the Save The 8th group said.

The opposition Labour party called on the government to support legislation to extend abortion rights in Northern Ireland because women are being denied fundamental rights.

One poll by national broadcaster RTE suggested around 70 per cent of the electorate have voted to end the country's all but blanket ban on terminations, with another, by The Irish Times, recording 68 per cent in favour of ditching the prohibition.

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

Ireland has voted to repeal its ban on abortion.

The outcome is a new milestone on a path of change for a country which only legalised divorce by a razor thin majority in 1995 before becoming the first in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote three years ago.

Irish prime minister, or taoiseach, Leo Varadkar says he hopes to have a new abortion law enacted by the end of the year.

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May's statement didn't mention Northern Ireland, where restrictions on abortion remain.

She said members of online communities such as "Abroad for Yes" set up "amazing support systems", with people quickly chipping in to buy tickets for would-be voters who couldn't afford the trip home.

Death of a 31-year-old Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar is said to have acted as a catalyst in this movement.

Mrs Halappanvar's death in 2012 helped to spark passionate calls to reform abortion law in Ireland.

Irish Health Minister Simon Harris said: "Under the Eighth Amendment women in crisis pregnancy have been told: 'Take the plane or take the boat.' Today we tell them: 'Take our hand'". "The government I lead will be one of the new European center as we seek to build a Republic of opportunity, that is a Republic in which every citizen gets a fair go and in which every part of the country stands to share in our prosperity".

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Another politician from the party, Jim Wells, a former Northern Ireland health minister, said that the result in Ireland was "an extremely worrying development for the protection of the unborn child in Northern Ireland".

Irish lawmakers are expected to bring up legislation allowing for abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy and even later in cases where the life of the mother is at risk.

Critics note that Northern Island still has the most restrictive abortion laws in the United Kingdom.

"There was just so much solidarity with everyone I saw", Sweeney said. Terminations had previously only been allowed if the mother's life was in danger, including as a result of suicide.

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