Theresa May Under Pressure Amid Ireland Abortion Referendum

Savita Halappanavar

The vote pitted conservative backers of strict abortion laws against those supporting a woman's right to choose.

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

The conservative 1983 law had effectively banned all abortions, leading to thousands of Irish women travelling overseas to countries such as the United Kingdom to undergo the procedure.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, a medical doctor who campaigned for ending the decades-old ban, hailed the result as a "quiet revolution". And we say that we trust women and we respect women and their decisions.

The DUP MP Jim Shannon said: "We have a Northern Ireland assembly that has been in limbo for 18 months".

Abortions are now only legal in Northern Ireland if the life or mental health of the mother is at risk.

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'". "This is about women taking their rightful place in Irish society, finally".

Pointing to the church sex abuse scandals, he said, Ireland's changing fortunes also meant that "instead of people bowing their heads whenever a priest passed by, they could actually stand up and say, 'Hang on, Father, what happened back then?'"

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The referendum will likely end the need for thousands of Irish women to travel overseas - mostly to neighboring Britain - for abortions they can't get at home.

People all around the world are celebrating what they consider a reproductive victory. "It's more of a relief", said Lynda Cosgrave, a 35-year-old legal associate, wearing the black sweatshirt with "Repeal" in white that become the symbol of the youthful "Yes" campaign. Cheers erupted every time partial results were shown on two big screens transmitting the latest television news.

As the final tally was announced showing over 66 percent of voters supported lifting the ban, crowds in the ancient courtyard of Dublin Castle began chanting "Savita!"

"Before, we were telling women to take a plane or a boat, and now we're telling them to take our hand", he said of the emphatic victory. The hot-button issue also motivated a number of Irish ex-patriots to fly home from around the globe to cast their ballots, with many posting their positions on social media beside the hashtag #HomeToVote.

Following Yalagi's request, the co-chair of pro-repeal umbrella group Together for Yes said that she supported the call to name the new legislation after Halappanavar. Perhaps as a result of the stress and anticipation of the huge, important vote, people went absolutely mad when a gorgeous hound was hoisted into the air, like Simba from The Lion King.

Varadkar said the Irish legislature will now move to repeal the Eighth Amendment and enact a new abortion law by the end of the year.

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.

"The people have spoken", Mr. Varadkar said following Friday's vote.

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