Ireland to vote today on anti-abortion measure

Ireland votes today in a referendum on whether to write into its constitution an anti-abortion amendment. Abortion is already illegal in the predominantly Catholic country. The amendment seeks to enshrine the ban in Ireland's 1937 constitution and put it beyond the reach of the courts. Opinion polls indicate that the country's 2.3 million voters will approve the amendment by a two-thirds majority.

The referendum campaign has been long and acrimonious, dividing political parties, families, and generations. A ''pro-life amendment campaign'' was started two years ago by a small conservative pressure group alarmed that courts in other countries had overturned anti-abortion legislation. Prime Minister Garret FitzGerald went on television Monday night to announce he would vote against it. Opposition leader Charles Haughey has come out strongly in support of it.

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