Savita Halappanavar's parents hail Irish abortion vote

Official results of Friday's referendum showed that of about 2.1 million votes cast, 1.4 million were in favor of repealing the Eighth Amendment to Ireland's Constitution that says a mother and unborn child have an "equal right to life".

Ireland's parliament will now be tasked with coming up with new abortion laws, and that's where opponents of repeal said they would take their fight following the referendum result.

One of dozens of messages left at a memorial to Savita Halappanava in Dublin after Ireland voted to liberalise abortion laws in a referendum on May 25, 2018. Making abortion legal in only the first trimester will still allow most Irish women who want an abortion to obtain one in their home country, instead of traveling to nearby England.

Reuters Activists react at the count centre as votes are tallied following Ireland's referendum on liberalizing abortion law, in Dublin.

Ireland's Health Minister Simon Harris will seek the cabinet's approval for the draft legislation, allowing abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy and under limited circumstances, up to the 23rd week, the MSN report further added.

"I said in recent days that this was a once in a generation vote", Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Saturday. "A quiet revolution has taken place, a great act of democracy".

Meanwhile, the Irish Consul-General to New Zealand said she believed Irish politicians of all parties would now unite behind changes to the abortion laws.

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. Most observers thought the vote was going to be much closer, and the referendum followed months of intense campaigning.

Some supporters had tears of joy running down their cheeks, and many women hugged each other.

Northern Ireland's elected assembly has the right to bring its abortion laws in line with the rest of Britain, but voted against doing so in February 2016 and the assembly has not sat since the devolved government collapsed in January 2017.

The vote saw citizens effectively opt to either retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the state's constitution, which prohibits terminations unless a mother's life is in danger.

She told AFP: "I had to leave my country to get the healthcare that I needed when I was told that my baby wouldn't survive outside the womb and I've told my story over and over again just in the hope that this day would come - and it's finally come".

Ms Bellamak said for the first time in a long time, the government had the will to address abortion law, but it needed to be kept on track.

"Our daughter's soul is now consoled", Savita's parents said.

"For him, it's a different Ireland that we're moving onto", said Colm O'Riain, a 44-year-old teacher referring to his son Ruarai, born 14 weeks premature in November who was in his arms. The once conservative nation voted "yes" to repeal a constitutional ban on abortion.

She said the results end a dark period in Irish history, when pregnant women had to risk jail time or travel overseas to terminate their pregnancies.

  • Leroy Wright