A man arrives to cast his ballot at Knock national school for the referendum on the 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution, in Knock, Ireland, Friday, May 25, 2018.(AP Photo/Peter Morrison)
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Ireland began voting Friday in an abortion referendum that could be a milestone on a path of change in a country that, only two decades ago, was one of Europe's most socially conservative.Polls suggest Irish voters are set to overturn one of the world's strictest bans on terminations. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, in favour of change, has called the referendum a "once-in-a-generation" chance.Voters in the once deeply Catholic nation will be asked if they wish to scrap a prohibition that was enshrined in the constitution by referendum 35 year ago, and partly lifted in 2013 only for cases where the mother's life is in danger.It legalised divorce by a razor-thin majority only in 1995, but three years ago became the first country in the world to adopt gay marriage by popular vote."Yes" campaigners have argued that with over 3,000 women travelling to Britain each year for terminations -- a right enshrined in a 1992 referendum -- and others ordering pills illegally online, abortion is already a reality in Ireland.Writing in the Times Ireland newspaper, Varadkar urged voters to put themselves in the shoes of an Irish woman dealing with a crisis pregnancy.
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