Ireland abortion referendum: ‘WE WILL MAKE HISTORY’ Taoiseach Leo Varadkar DECLARES

Irish Women Turn Out in Droves to Repeal Constitutional Ban on Abortion

The survey, conducted by the polling firm Ipsos/MRBI for the Irish Times, suggests that the "Yes" vote to repeal the eighth amendment will win by a fairly stunning margin of 68 to 32 percent, defying expectations of a closely divided electorate.

The poll was based on interviews throughout the day with 4,000 voters as they left polling stations in 160 locations across all constituencies.

Voters have until 10:00pm (2100 GMT) on Friday to cast their ballots at some 6,500 polling stations, after which an exit poll of 3,000 voters will be released on national broadcaster RTE.

The Yes campaign was supported by Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, though neither of the largest political parties took a side in the debate, allowing individual politicians to make up their own minds.

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 Eighth Amendment is a clause in the constitution which was written after a previous referendum on the issue in 1983 recognised the right to life of the unborn child. Ireland now grants women and fetuses an "equal right to life", and women who have abortions could face up to 14 years in prison.

The now-controversial Eighth Amendment was introduced after a referendum in 1983.

Dublin's turnout so far exceeds that of the 2016 general election and the 2015 referendum that approved same-sex "marriage".

The 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian-born dentist living in Ireland, gave momentum to the current call for change.

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"I think this issue is important because it's been 35 years since any person has had a choice to vote", said Sophie O'Gara, 28, who was voting Yes near Dublin's bustling Silicon Docks, home to some of the world's biggest technology firms. Its aim was to stop Irish women having abortions.

Faulkner flew in not to vote, but to join the anti-abortion rights campaign.

Women accessing illegal abortions can receive a maximum 14-year jail sentence, but the law allows them to travel overseas for an abortion, resulting in several thousand Irish women travelling to the United Kingdom each year to terminate their pregnancies.

Nonetheless, even the most rural parts of Ireland seem to have voted in favor of change.

Although not on the ballot paper, the "No" camp sought to seize on government plans to allow abortions with no restriction up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy if the referendum is carried, calling it a step too far for most voters.

In the weeks leading up to Ireland's referendum on legalizing abortion, polls indicated that up to one-fifth of the country's population was undecided, putting a question mark next to the vote's probable outcome. Social media feeds have filled with images of boarding passes, personal testimonials and stories of flights packed with Irish voters.

"If there is a Yes vote Ireland will be the same place, just a place that's a little bit more compassionate and a little bit more understanding than it has been in the past", emphasized Varadkar.

Only those away for less than 18 months are eligible to vote in the referendums, but this has still led to an overwhelming majority of people arriving home to make their voice heard.

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