Niall Horan, Hozier, Bastille & More Encourage Votes on Irish Abortion Referendum

Niall Horan, Hozier, Bastille & More Encourage Votes on Irish Abortion Referendum

The hashtag #hometovote, first used for Ireland's 2015 gay marriage referendum, has been re-used by Irish citizens based overseas to share their journeys back home to have their say in the vote on whether or not to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Irish voters are casting their ballots on Friday in an abortion referendum that could represent a change in the path of a country that was once one of Europe's more socially conservative.

It is commonly viewed to equate the life of a pregnant woman with the foetus, effectively placing a ban on abortion. A shrine dedicated to her sprang up on Friday, adorned by flowers and messages from those who voted Yes to the proposed repeal of the Eighth Amendment. "I've a family myself and I think it's really important", said John Devlin, a marketing worker in his 50s voting "No" near Dublin's city center. "There is a clear division between urban and rural communities geographically, between east and west, between old and young", said Barker.

"More and more people are realising that this government has planned to introduce an extreme abortion law, the only way to stop this is to vote "No", said Mary Butler, an anti-abortion lawmaker from the main opposition party, Fianna Fail.

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The pro-choice campaign had an early lead in opinion polls but lost some of its advantage in recent weeks and experts have predicted the result could be exceptionally close, with many voters still undecided.

Activists were out on a final push for votes on Thursday, attempting to convince wavering voters in what has been an emotionally-charged campaign.

The poll suggests that the margin of victory for the Yes side in the referendum will be 68 per cent to 32 per cent - a stunning victory for the Yes side after a long and often divisive campaign.See here for liveblog coverage of the count on Saturday.

The highest Yes vote was in Dublin, where 77 per cent of voters backed the proposals, The Irish Times poll predicts.

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"The heart of our Christian faith is that God took flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary and that he took on the human condition", remarked O'Domhnaill. "Thank you to everybody who voted today - democracy can be so powerful on days like today - looks like a stunning result that will bring about a fundamental change for the better", he tweeted late on Friday night.

Under current law, abortion is allowed if the mother's life is in danger.

The country's leaders supported a "yes", an outcome that would repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment requiring authorities to treat a fetus and its mother as equals under the law. He said, "I'm a staunch No". Last year, Ireland elected its first openly gay prime minister, Varadkar. She said her friend had found seeing the omnipresent referendum placards distressing.

The Irish government's push to liberalize the laws is in contrast to the United States, where abortion has always been legal, but U.S. President Donald Trump backs stripping federal funding from women's health-care clinics that offer abortions.

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But as Ireland heads to the polls, there's been a swell of support from some of the country's most famous faces. Having an illegal abortion is punishable by up to 14 years in prison, and several thousand Irish women travel each year to get abortions in neighbouring Britain.

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