Ireland: Exit polls predict win for repealing abortion ban

Official counting is set to begin in Ireland's historic abortion rights referendum, with two exit polls predicting an overwhelming victory for those seeking to end the country's strict ban.

The Irish Times and RTE television exit polls suggest the Irish people have voted to repeal a 1983 constitutional amendment that effectively bans abortions. Currently, terminations are only allowed when a woman's life is at risk.

The exit polls are predictions only, with official results expected Saturday afternoon. Paper ballots must be counted and tallied.

If the "yes" forces seeking a constitutional change prevail as the polls suggest, Ireland's parliament will be charged with coming up with new abortion laws.

The government proposes to allow abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy with later terminations allowed in some cases.