Northern Ireland abortion reforms 'a test of May's feminism'

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The Irish people voted Friday to repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment banning abortion rights for women with 66.4% in favor, a almost 2-1 victory for the nation's "yes" campaign, BBC reports.

The referendum repeals Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which was added to the constitution in 1983, which banned abortion in Ireland unless there was a "real and substantial risk" to the mother's life.

Irish Catholics attending Sunday Mass were disappointed with the result of a referendum in which voters opted to legalise abortion and think it reflects the weakening of the church - a situation that was unthinkable in Ireland a generation ago. The Irish Times newspaper predicted 68 percent of voters cast ballots to change the law in an exit poll published earlier.

Each year, thousands of women - including those who were raped, victims of incest, suffered from fatal fetal abnormality or had other health-related abortions - are believed to have traveled to Britain to seek abortions that were banned at home.

Ahead of Friday's vote the Catholic Church in Ireland encouraged its followers to keep the right to life in the constitution but critics say the church's moral authority has weakened after a series of child abuse scandals.

His government proposes allowing abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy and between 12 and 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar hailed the vote as bringing a new era to Ireland. Remarkable day. A quiet revolution has taken place, a great act of democracy.

"What Irish voters did yesterday is a tragedy of historic proportions", the Save The 8th group said. "I'm especially grateful to the women of Ireland who came forward to provide their personal testimony about the hard times that they endured, the stress and the trauma that they experienced because of the eighth amendment".

Although she had requested an abortion after developing these complications, doctors by law were unable to perform the necessary termination that could have saved Savita her life.

The 31-year-old woman's death had triggered a massive debate in that country over the issue of life-saving abortions.

Many gathered at the Savita Halappanavar mural as the results of the vote were counted.

The Irish Sun on Sunday pictured two women hugging under the headline "No more lonely journeys" in reference to those who had been forced to travel to England to have an abortion.

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

Mrs Halappanvar's death in 2012 helped to spark passionate calls to reform abortion law in Ireland. Next step, Northern Ireland.

On Friday, people in the Republic of Ireland voted to remove the Eighth Amendment of the Irish Constitution, which gave the unborn an equal right to life as a pregnant woman.

A woman breaks down in tears as the results in the Irish referendum on the 8th amendment concerning the country's abortion laws.

While women in Ireland are rejoicing this change they are also quietly remembering Savita Halappanavar, who had died of sepsis at a hospital in Galway in October 2012. "If it didn't go through, I actually couldn't live with myself and I knew that we wouldn't get the chance to do it for another 35 years".