Irish abortion referendum: Counting starts as exit polls show landslide in favor

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Ireland has voted in favour of overturning the abortion ban as early results point to a "resounding" victory for the yeas campaign.

A poll conducted by RTE Television showed that nearly 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.

Art director Aoife Murray, 27, who voted in Dublin, said the exit poll left her in tears of relief.

Hosted by David McCullagh, he will reveal what the the Behaviour & Attitudes exit poll found after interviewing 3,000 people across the country, immediately after they voted.

The prime minister, a medical doctor who came to power previous year, spoke to RTE News in advance of the announcement of the referendum's official results, expected later Saturday.

Adopted in 1983, the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland gives an unborn child the same right to life as their mother, effectively outlawing abortions except in instances where pregnancy would pose "a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother".

Pro-choice supporters celebrate as the results are announced to repeal the 8th amendment and legalise abortion in Ireland.

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Abortion was first banned in Ireland back in 1861 by the Offences Against the Person act, and the ban remained in place after Irish independence.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the consensus included men and women and almost all social classes and age groups.

For decades, many Irish people saw the amendment as a symbol of the country's deeply-held Catholic faith.

Savita, from India but living in Ireland with her husband Praveen, died at University Hospital Galway in 2012 after a septic miscarriage at 17 weeks.

The specific question people were asked was whether they wanted to see the Eighth Amendment replaced with wording in the constitution that would hand politicians the responsibility to set future laws on abortion, unhindered by constitutional strictures.

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has praised the apparent victory in the abortion referendum as "the culmination of a quiet revolution" that has been unfolding in the past 10 to 20 years.

As early as Tuesday, the Government will begin the process of introducing legislation to permit unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks. If the final turnout, which will be released Saturday, surpasses 60.52%, it will be higher than Ireland's referendum on same-sex marriage, which passed in 2015. Ireland has always been one of Europe's most socially conservative countries, and contraception was only fully legalized in 1985, while divorce was banned until 1995. It outlawed all abortions until 2014, when the procedure started being allowed in rare cases when a woman's life was in danger. He now expects new abortion legislation to come into effect by the end of the year.