Saturday 21 September 2019

Final Results

Repeal the Eighth Amendment?

Yes 66.40% 1,429,981

No 33.60% 723,632

  • Constituencies declared: 40/40

Referendum Hub

Voters put aside personal opinions to allow women make their own choices

Exit poll data shows even those against abortion voted in favour of choice

ACTION STATIONS: Tally woman Della McGuinness during the referendum count at The Hyde Centre in Roscommon town. Photo: Steve Humphreys
ACTION STATIONS: Tally woman Della McGuinness during the referendum count at The Hyde Centre in Roscommon town. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

The vast majority of people who voted Yes in last Friday's historic referendum on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution did so because they believed women should have the choice to decide whether or not they should have an abortion.

In many cases, people put aside their own personal feelings on terminating pregnancies and decided to vote instead to allow women to make their own decisions.

Even voters who strongly oppose the introduction of what the No campaign describe as "abortion on demand" decided it was none of their business what other people do when faced by crisis pregnancies.

The referendum result showed Irish people are not willing to make judgments on their neighbours who may be struggling with difficult personal circumstances.

Personal religious and personal moral views were parked and voters decided it was not for them to impose their views on anyone else.

RTE's exit poll, which was carried out on polling day, confirmed this is how the people of Ireland now view abortion.

The Behaviour & Attitudes survey showed 84pc of people who voted Yes did so because they believed women should have the right to choose.

Voters emphatically voted in favour of giving women the freedom to decide if they should make the difficult decision to have an abortion.

How Did Your Constituency Vote?

Final Results Constituencies declared: 40/40

Map Key

Yes 55% 50% 55% No

By voting in such high numbers to make abortion legal in this country, the electorate also told women they will not be judged or condemned if they decide to terminate a pregnancy.

A threat to the health or life of the woman was the main reason for voting Yes for 69pc of those polled, while pregnancy as a result of rape cited by 52pc of those polled.

The hard cases faced by women were always going to influence voters but it is more remarkable that they come second to a desire to give women a choice.

No one would dare take from the grim reality faced by those who have been raped or been given a diagnosis of a fatal foetal abnormality.

Constituencies with the strongest Yes/No vote

The table below shows the top five constituencies with the strongest vote for or against repealing the Eighth Amendment.

Dublin Bay South 78.49% 21.51%

Dún Laoghaire 77.06% 22.94%

Dublin Fingal 76.96% 23.04%

Dublin Central 76.51% 23.49%

Dublin Rathdown 76.10% 23.90%

Donegal 48.13% 51.87%

But the referendum result shows the vast majority of people voted Yes to give women bodily autonomy.

The RTE exit poll also found a quarter of Yes voters do not agree with the introduction of abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Some Yes voters, albeit a small proportion, also disagreed with the introduction of abortion for rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormalities.

On the flip side, 73pc supported abortion in cases of rape or incest; 71pc for of fatal foetal abnormality; 67pc between 12 and 24 weeks where there is a risk to the health of the woman; but only 52pc were in favour of abortion being available on request up to 12 weeks.

The poll findings clearly show there was a group of voters who decided their own feelings on abortion did not count. They would never have an abortion themselves.

They would not encourage a partner or family member to terminate a pregnancy. But they understood this was their choice and they happily voted to give women the opportunity to make their own choice.

It would also seem most voters did not just suddenly come to this conclusion.

In fact, three out of every four (75pc) voters said they always knew how they would vote in an abortion referendum. The tragic death of Savita Halappanavar five years ago influenced the voting decision of 8pc of those polled.

Ms Halappanavar died in hospital after requesting to have her pregnancy terminated. An independent review found she would not have died had she been permitted to have an abortion.

The stories of ordinary people impacted by the Eighth Amendment, which were covered by the media, influenced the votes of 43pc of those polled. Another 34pc were influenced by the experiences of people they knew - friends and family forced to travel abroad for terminations after a crisis pregnancy.

Politicians will be disappointed to hear the Citizens' Assembly and the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment had little impact on voting patterns. In both cases a mere 1pc of those polled said the work of both bodies influenced the way they voted.

Hundreds of voluntary campaigners put in long hours of tireless hard work on both sides of the debate.

However, the RTE poll found just 7pc of people surveyed said their vote was influenced by direct contact with a campaigner.

An overwhelming majority (82pc) of people said the campaigns, which seemed to go on for weeks if not months, had no impact on their vote.

Less than one in five (17pc) said they changed their mind during the campaign.

Religion and the Catholic Church were front and centre in the campaign.

However, almost a third of Yes voters (31pc) said they attend Mass at least once a month but still voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.

Three-quarters of No voters (74pc) said they attend Mass at least once a month.

The poll was a survey of 3,779 voters at 175 polling stations. Overall, the poll found 69.4pc voted Yes, while 30.6pc voted No. It found that 72.1pc of women and 65.9pc of men voted Yes. The Yes vote was highest among younger voters: 87.6pc among 18-24; 84.6pc amongst 25-34; 72.8pc among 35-49; 63.7pc among 50-64 age groups.

Voters aged over 65 were the only group to vote against the referendum proposal with 41.3pc voting Yes and 58.7pc voting No.

Every region of the country voted Yes: Dublin 79.8pc; rest of Leinster 67.2pc; Munster 63.3pc; Connacht/Ulster 62pc.

There was an urban/rural divide but was nowhere near as pronounced as expected with a 72.3pc Yes vote in urban areas and 63.3pc in rural.

The only political party whose voters voted against the referendum was Fianna Fail, which had 50.3pc No voters and 49.7pc Yes.

A large majority of supporters of every party voted to repeal the Eighth: Fine Gael 74.9pc; Sinn Fein 74.5pc; Labour 80.3pc; Social Democrats 89.5pc, Green Party 88.9pc; Solidarity/PBP 82.1pc.

The exit poll presented good news for Health Minister Simon Harris and other politicians who took part in live televised debates for the Yes campaign.

Two in five (42pc) of voters believed the Yes side won the televised debates, while just 14pc said the No camp came out victorious.

However, one in five (21pc) said they didn't watch the debates and 17pc said neither side won.

Almost 60pc of voters believe the Government will be able to implement strict restriction on abortion even after the referendum passes. However, a fifth of voters believe this will not be the case.

Sunday Independent

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