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Ireland overturns abortion ban in landslide vote

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Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to repeal a restrictive abortion ban from its constitution, the country’s prime minister said on Saturday. 

The eighth amendment of the Irish constitution imposed one of the world’s most restrictive bans on the procedure. But in a landslide, Irish voters rejected the amendment. 

With nearly all constituencies reporting results, the Guardian reported that 67 percent had voted to repeal the provision, with only 33 percent voting to preserve it. 

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“The people have said that we want a modern constitution for a modern country, that we trust women and we respect them to make the right decision and the right choices about their health care,” Leo Varadkar, the country’s prime minister — or taoiseach — said on Saturday.

Varadkar spoke about what he called a “quiet revolution” in Ireland in recent decades, alluding to the traditionally conservative Catholic country’s shift toward more liberal policies. He also mentioned that “revolution” in a tweet on Saturday.

In 2015, Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage. Just last year, the country swore in Varadkar as its first openly gay prime minister.

For decades, thousands of Irish women sought abortions illegally each year. Many traveled abroad to undergo the procedure, and others bought pills online. Such an offense carried a prison sentence of up to 14 years, according to Irish statute.

Varadkar said on Saturday that he planned to implement a new abortion law by the end of the year.  

Tags abortion ban eighth amendment Ireland Leo Varadkar

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