"If exit polls are reflected in the official vote count later today, this will be a moment of profound change in Ireland's social history, a moment when the nation collectively stood up for women and for their healthcare, and voted for constitutional change".
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who had campaigned in favour of liberalisation, praised the country's "quiet revolution".
"What we've seen today is the culmination of a quiet revolution that has been taking place in Ireland for the past 10 or 20 years", Mr. Varadkar told RTE, Ireland's public broadcaster.
People from the "Yes" campaign react as the results of the votes begin to come in, after the Irish referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution at Dublin Castle, in Dublin, Ireland, Saturday, May 26, 2018.
"They are saying this is a country where we trust women and respect their choices".
Anti-abortion activists admitted defeat Saturday, calling the results a "tragedy of historic proportions".
He said that majority reigned among both men and women, nearly all age groups and social classes, and perhaps every constituency in the country.
Women accessing illegal abortions can receive a maximum 14-year jail sentence, but the law allows them to travel overseas for an abortion, resulting in several thousand Irish women travelling to the United Kingdom each year to terminate their pregnancies.
The law gave equal right to life of the unborn, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother.
Ireland, a country with a deep connection to its Roman Catholic roots, didn't see open access to contraception until the 1990s and only legalized divorce in 1995.
The eighth amendment - article 40.3.3 of the Irish constitution - which previously prohibited abortion, will be replaced with a clause stating: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy".
"For him [his son], it's a different Ireland that we're moving onto". However, a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it...
In addition to this, the case of Savita Halappanavar also sparked debate around Ireland and the world watched as the Galway dentist died following complications from a septic miscarriage, after she was denied an abortion. "If it didn't go through, I actually couldn't live with myself and I knew that we wouldn't get the chance to do it for another 35 years".
Draft legislation released before the referendum would allow for relatively unrestricted abortions up until 12 weeks of pregnancy, subject to consultation with a doctor and a short waiting period.
The vote divided political parties, saw the once-mighty Catholic Church take a back seat, with the campaign defined by women on both sides publicly describing their personal experiences of terminations. "Every time an unborn child has his or her life ended in Ireland, we will oppose that, and make our voices known".
"It is inevitable that the abortion industry based in Great Britain will set up clinics in border towns", he said.