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The Irish vote will echo through Britain | Abortion | British politics | Ireland

The Irish vote will echo through Britain | Abortion | British politics | Ireland

Following the announcement at Dublin Castle, the taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar, who campaigned in favour of repealing, said it was "a historic day for Ireland".

Varadkar said that Irish voters "trust and respect women to make the right choices and decisions about their own health care".

History was made in Ireland on Friday, after the 66.4 percent voted to repeal the country's eighth amendment which put a ban on women's right to have an abortion.

There had been other prominent cases after the Eighth Amendment was introduced, but never one that galvanized so many people across so many demographics, he said.

If the projected numbers hold up, the referendum would be a landmark in Irish women's fight for abortion rights.

Varadkar's government has promised to approve the drafting of abortion legislation at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday and is aiming to enact the new law before the end of the year.

John Kelly, 62, said: "I'm actually very proud of it". It outlawed all abortions until 2014, when the procedure started being allowed in rare cases when a woman's life was in danger.

Meanwhile, the anti-abortion organization American Life League joined the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children to criticize Irish voters for the decision.

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Exit polls also showed that nearly every age group backed repeal with the highest percentage of support coming from voters aged 18 to 24 who voted 88 per cent in favor of dropping the constitutional ban. More than half of the country's 40 regions had been counted by 4 p.m. local time and showed 68 percent supporting the amendment's repeal. Varadkar said he hoped the law to allow abortions in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy would be in place by the end of the year.

But Irish campaigners against the changing of the constitution have said they will continue to debate the issue, despite what some have called a "sad day" for Ireland.

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.

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.

Mr Little said while Ireland's circumstances were quite different - the result of its referendum did indicate attitudes and values towards abortion were changing. "Now more than ever it is time for the United Kingdom government to show the same respect for the women of Northern Ireland".

Exit polls showed repeal voters, known as "Yes voters", winning by a margin of over two to one.

The historic vote was on whether Irish women would be able to access abortions in the country, and whether the constitution should be changed to reflect this.