Ireland has long had one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the Western world. On May 25, voters will decide whether to dial it back. A vote to change the Irish Constitution would be the latest indication of social change in a nation where the teachings of the Catholic Church once held sway.
Abortions are prohibited unless the pregnancy "poses a real and substantial risk to the life of the mother," which has been construed to include the risk of her committing suicide. Women are permitted to seek information on abortion services in other European Union countries and can travel to other countries to have an abortion. In practice, most women who choose to terminate pregnancies do so by going to England or Wales. Some 3,265 Irish residents had an abortion in the U.K. in 2016, according to its health ministry.