Al Jazeera reports [aljazeera.com]
Polls have closed in an Irish referendum on abortion that could represent a change in the path of a country that was once one of Europe's more socially conservative.
Voters turned out in large numbers on [May 25] to have their say on whether to repeal the country's Eighth Amendment, which outlaws abortion by giving equal rights to the unborn.
An exit poll, conducted for the Irish Times by Ipsos/MRBI, suggested that the country voted by a landslide margin to change the constitution so that abortion can be legalised.
The vote to repeal the constitutional ban was predicted to win by 68 percent to 32 percent, according to the poll of 4,000 voters, the Irish Times said.
[...]If the proposal to repeal the Eighth Amendment is defeated on [May 25], the country will not have a second referendum and it could be another 35 years before voters have their say on the matter again, [Prime Minister Leo] Varadkar said.
[...]78 percent of the Irish population is Catholic
[...]Thousands of people living abroad returned home to vote. Ireland is one of the few countries in the European Union that does not allow those abroad to vote via post or in embassies.
Those away for less than 18 months remain eligible to vote at their former local polling station. Those living on the Atlantic islands cast their ballot a day early to help prevent delays in transportation and counting the ballot papers.
When the constitutional amendment to instate the ban was voted on in 1983, 66.9 percent voted "yes," and 33.1 percent voted "no".