Early Irish referendum results show 66% voted to end abortion ban

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Champagne corks popped amid chants of "Ole, ole, ole, ole" when the first results came in showing a massive "yes" vote. Women and men wearing "Repeal" tops and "Yes" badges waved Irish flags and placards reading "Thank you", with love hearts on.

The forthcoming Domestic Abuse Bill promised by ministers could be used as a vehicle for MPs hoping to change the law in Northern Ireland.

During the press conference that announced the result, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that "I said in recent days that this was a once in a generation vote".

Ireland's parliament will now be tasked with coming up with new abortion laws, and that's where opponents of repeal said they would take their fight following the referendum result.

Some 1,429,981 votes were cast for Yes.

The Friday turnout was 64.13% - a record high.

The law on abortion is enshrined in the country's constitution, which can be changed only by referendum. A quiet revolution has taken place, and a great act of democracy. "The burden of shame has been lifted".

Sir Vince said the United Kingdom government should take advantage of the current lack of a devolved administration in Northern Ireland. "We are not a divided country", he said.

Ireland's Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone said Saturday she is confident new abortion legislation can be approved by parliament and put in place before the end of the year. The vote joins other progressive steps forward for the country, including 2015's historic vote to legalize same-sex marriage.

In Ireland, people are especially happy about the victory.

The referendum comes three months before Pope Francis visits Ireland for the World Meeting of Families. Voters over the age of 65 were the only ones to come out against the repeal according to projections, with 58.7 percent voting "No".

"It's incredible. For all the years and years and years we've been trying to look after women and not been able to look after women, this means everything", said Mary Higgins, obstetrician and Together For Yes campaigner.

"All medical pro-life groups are needed now more than ever", Halpenny said.

Support for reform was so widespread that the No campaign conceded defeat several hours before the referendum count was finished. After the vote Friday and exit polls showing overwhelming support for overturning the abortion ban, anti-abortion advocates showed their concern on social media. In the European Union, predominantly Catholic Malta is the only country with a total ban.

The new legal framework to replace the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution will be drafted over the summer and is set to be tabled in the Dáil in the autumn. She was forced to choose between carrying a non-viable pregnancy to term, or travelling overseas for a termination. Currently, terminations are only allowed when a woman's life is at risk.

"Yes" campaigners argued that with over 3,000 women travelling to Britain each year for terminations - a right enshrined in a 1992 referendum - and others ordering pills illegally online, abortion is already a reality in Ireland. And with this amendment, the last part of an oppressive system that subjugated women in Ireland for centuries has gone.

Abortion had been illegal in Ireland since at least 1861 when the British authorities instated a ban on the procedure.