In a landslide victory for pro-choice activists, Ireland overwhelming voted to legalize abortion Saturday, putting a decisive end to one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the world.
The final tally, announced on the steps of Dublin Castle in the country’s capital city, found 66.4% voted yes to amend the constitution while 33.6% voted no.
Thousands of people gathered in the courtyard erupted into cheers as the final vote was declared.
Some young voters, sporting sweatshirts reading “Repeal” and “Together for yes,” celebrated the win in the true Irish way — with a pint of Guinness.
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who campaigned to legalize abortion, praised the victory as a “great act of democracy.”
“I said in recent days that this was a once-in-a-generation vote. Today, I believe we have voted for the next generation,” Varadhkar told the energized crowd.
“I think it’s a great day for women. A great weight (has) been lifted off our society as a whole,” said Ian Espey, 25. “I just feel like the country can breathe.”
Donegal, a county in the northern part of Ireland, was the only constituency that was against the repeal, with 51.87% voting no, The Guardian reported.
The historic decision comes at the end of a years-long national debate on whether to legalize abortion, a bitter feud that often pitted family and friends against each other.
At the center of it all was the Eighth Amendment of the Irish constitution, a 1983 law which recognizes a fetus’ right to life from the moment of conception.
In 2012, mass protests erupted when Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian dentist, died after she was denied an abortion, prompting calls for a nationwide referendum.
Pro-choice advocates argued that the law was archaic, while anti-abortion activists said repealing the Eighth Amendment was a vote for abortion on demand.
Halappanavar’s father told the Hindustan Times Saturday he was “very happy” with the final result.
“We’ve got justice for Savita. What happened to her will not happen to any other family. I have no words to express my gratitude to the people of Ireland,” Andanappa Yalagi told the Indian newspaper.
Saturday’s vote is the latest in a line of liberal policy shifts that have transformed the Catholic-majority country over the past decade.
Three years ago, Ireland voted to legalize same-sex marriage.
Last year, the country welcomed its first openly-gay prime minister.