Update: With 80% of the vote counted, the Yes campaign has 67.6% of the vote in a landslide victory. The Save the 8th campaign supporting the No vote conceded defeat earlier, with #Repealedthe8th trending worldwide.
This piece was originally published on May 26, 2018 at 10am.
This morning Irish people are waking up to the news that, according to exit polls, the majority of voters in the divisive abortion referendum voted yes, a vote to repeal Ireland's strict abortion laws. The official result will be known in a few hours.
The RTÉ poll projected a Yes vote of 69.4% with a No vote of 30.6%. The Irish Times poll projects a similar result.
In Ireland, campaigners from the Yes campaign are already celebrating. If the polls are correct, an emphatic yes vote will be result of decades of campaigning in Ireland. The controversial 8th amendment equates the life of a pregnant woman with that of an embryo or foetus and means abortion is illegal in Ireland, even where the pregnancy places a woman’s health at serious risk, in cases of rape or incest, or where the foetus is likely to die before or shortly after birth.
International human rights organisations have challenged the Irish State in the past for its draconian abortion regime, saying the 8th amendment violates women’s right to bodily integrity and self-determination. Yet, the expected landslide result is very much the work of a homegrown campaign that tirelessly fought for women's right to choose.
Because of Ireland's laws, at present, nine women and girls leave Ireland every day to have a termination in the UK. A further three order abortion pills online. A Yes vote of this size will be seen as the beginning of the end to the stigma, secrecy and shame surrounding abortion in Ireland.
The exit polls show that young people in Ireland are overwhelmingly in favour of change. The referendum is already being hailed as another sign of societal shift in Ireland (back in May 2015, the Irish people voted to approve same-sex marriage.)
Seismic, stunning and historic are some of the words being used to describe the predicted results. Voter turnout hit an estimated 70% in some areas and the size of the mandate from the Irish public for change should prove important when it comes to drafting new legislation. Polls closed at 10pm last night, counting began at 9am this morning and the official result will be know by lunchtime.
The role of social media in the campaigns for both a Yes has been crucial and today #repealthe8th #táformná (Irish for yesforwomen) and #togetherforyes are all trending on Twitter where people have been sharing their stories. The hashtag #repealed is also beginning to trend.
Here's a flavour of what people are tweeting about...
Having a drink with Matt tonight, he's my 91 year old father in law. Hadn't really asked him about #8thref until we had all voted as he is a daily mass goer.— Samantha Long (@SamanthaELong) May 25, 2018
"I thought a lot Sam. I went for #YES. Our girls shouldn't be sent away" #proud #IVotedYes #Together4Yes pic.twitter.com/ZOWNmNRE0f
*This story will be updated as the results are counted