What happens now Ireland has voted overwhelmingly Yes?

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Ireland has voted overwhelmingly to liberalise some of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe.

Here are some questions answered about where we go from here.

The constitutional provision which prohibits abortion in all cases except where a mother’s life is endangered has been overturned. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said his Government aims to pass new laws by the end of the year.

Draft measures would allow relatively free access to abortions, subject to consultation with a medical professional and after a short waiting period, up to 12 weeks after gestation and up to 24 weeks with restrictions.

If, after 12 weeks, a woman’s life is threatened or there could be serious harm to her health, two doctors will consider whether to allow the procedure.

Terminations will not be carried out after the foetus becomes viable, following 24 weeks of pregnancy.

A Yes campaigner celebrates at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)
A Yes campaigner celebrates at Dublin Castle (Niall Carson/PA)

The leader of the Opposition, Micheal Martin, has said his No-supporting Fianna Fail parliamentarians will not block the change. Those who campaigned against the measure have said they respect the democratic decision.

The law will be subject to debate inside and outside the Dail parliament, and judging by the partisan nature of that before the referendum it could be passionate.

There is likely to be renewed emphasis on crisis pregnancy prevention and care which has seen the number of cases dramatically decrease in Ireland in recent years.

– How does the proposed regime in Ireland compare with the UK?

The UK is covered by the 1967 Abortion Act after a private member’s bill was brought by David Steel MP.

Abortions can legally be performed if continuing with the pregnancy involves a greater risk to the mental or physical health of the woman than having a termination.

An abortion must be agreed by two doctors and carried out by a doctor in a hospital or clinic.

Leo Varadkar hailed the result as Ireland overwhelmingly voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment (Niall Carson/PA)
Leo Varadkar hailed the result as Ireland overwhelmingly voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment (Niall Carson/PA)

The Irish Family Planning Association (IFPA) said it was committed to offering the procedures.

Chief executive Niall Behan said it would support women with crisis pregnancies through whatever decision they make.

“The Yes vote places the imperative squarely on the Government to ensure that the legislation is enacted and services put in place without delay,” he said.

“The IFPA stands ready to provide high quality abortion services In Ireland.”

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