#8thRef Analysis: Two-thirds majority would give firm mandate to continue with plan for 12-week abortion access

The scale of the predicted 68-32% abortion referendum yes vote victory is likely to hamstring ongoing opposition to the Government's 12-week abortion access plans when the issue returns to the Dáil in the coming months.

This is because despite No campaigners repeatedly warning of the implications of the proposed new law, voters appear to have still decided to back the repeal of the Eighth Amendment in their droves.

And while the issues are different parts of the same question, such widespread support across regions, age groups and gender will give Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister SImon Harris are strong hand to play in the post-referendum battle.

In late March, Mr Harris confirmed in the Dáil that in the event of a Yes vote in the referendum he will bring forward legislation allowing 12 weeks unrestricted access to abortion and for abortions to be allowed under certain circumstances after this point.

The plan was widely backed by most of Fine Gael, some within Fianna Fáil including its leader Micheál Martin, all but two Sinn Féin TDs, all of Labour, the Social Democrats, Solidarity-People Before Profit and a large number of Independents.

However, it was strongly condemned by other Fine Gael members, more than half of Fianna Fáil's parliamentary party, and other TDs and senators.

It had been expected that a close referendum win for the yes campaign would result in pro-life campaigners switching their attention to the 12 weeks legislation and how it could be altered through Dáil and Seanad amendments to limit the impact of a Yes vote.

This view was underlined even further in the final days of the campaign as both the Love Both and Save the 8th groups suggested they would be in favour of allowing some legislation for "hard cases" on condition the 12 weeks law was blocked.

However, should the 68-32% landslide yes vote victory outlined in the first of tonight's exit polls be repeated in the official count tomorrow, it will undermine the ability of this strategy to be acted on.

This is because such a strong two-thirds majority Yes vote win across all regions, age brackets and gender makes it clear what the public's position is on the matter - and therefore making it increasingly difficult for No vote politicians to ignore what their communities want introduced.

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