The referendum to repeal the Eighth amendment has passed with a 66.4% Yes vote. The result was met with an outpour of emotion from pro-choice students and activists who gathered in the Graduates’ Memorial Building (GMB) on Saturday to follow the ballot count.
Trinity students engaged in canvassing across Dublin during the lead-up to the referendum. Hundreds of students gathered in Trinity’s Front Square for a final “supercanvass” on Thursday organised by Students For Choice, a student-led repeal campaign. 78.4% of voters in Dublin Bay South, the constituency in which Trinity is situated, opted to repeal the Eighth.
The repeal of the eighth amendment to the Irish constitution will allow the government to put legislation in place regarding the termination of pregnancies.
In a statement to Trinity News, President of Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) Kevin Keane praised the women who have campaigned for this change in past years, and also those who had been affected by the eighth amendment. He also noted that their success had “vindicated the SU after a year of long and hard work”. TCDSU has been mandated by the Student Council to campaign for the repeal of the eighth amendment since February 2014.
The referendum saw all but one constituency, namely Donegal, vote in favour of the repeal of the eighth amendment. Similarly, the marriage equality referendum saw 42 out of 43 constituencies voting Yes in 2015.
An exit poll by The Irish Times on Friday evening predicted a 68% victory for the Yes vote. The poll indicated that 87% of voters between the ages of 18 and 24 voted in favour of repeal.
The referendum asked voters whether the eighth amendment, which was inserted into the constitution in 1983, along with additions made in 1992 which allowed women to travel abroad for terminations and for the provision of information about services available in other countries, should be replaced with the text “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy.”
The government has proposed that legislation will allow abortion up to 12 weeks in any circumstances and later in cases where there is a risk to the life of the pregnant person, a medical emergency, or a fatal foetal abnormality. Women seeking an abortion will undergo a 72 hour waiting period before they can access the service.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who campaigned for a Yes vote, expressed his satisfaction at today’s result and stated that “we will have a modern constitution for a modern country”. He went on to note his intention to enact legislation on this issue before the end of the year, and that the overwhelming support for this amendment would make this process easier.
Early results indicated a win for the Yes side. Galway East was the first constituency to declare a Yes with 60.2% of voters in favour of repeal. Dublin Central was the first decisive Yes in the capital, returning a vote of 77% yes.
Additional reporting by Peter Kelly and Michael Gilna.