Penny Mordaunt, the United Kingdom global development secretary, joined the cautious early celebrations, but noted that nothing had yet changed for women in Northern Ireland. In 2015, Ireland became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by a public vote, and Leo Varadkar, the gay son of an Indian immigrant, became the country's leader past year.
Faulkner flew in not to vote, but to join the anti-abortion rights campaign.
Voters were asked if they wanted to retain or repeal the amendment, with a reversal of the law then adding a new clause to the constitution that would empower Parliament to legislate for abortion.
"I hope that a Yes vote will help to lift that stigma and help to take away that legacy of shame that exists in our society", Mr Varadkar said.
"Yes" campaigners argued that with over 3,000 women traveling 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. If the vote is in favour of repeal, the government plans to introduce legislation permitting unrestricted abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
Opponents have come out against legalizing abortion, with some pressing a vote "NO" campaign across Ireland.
"Opinion polls have been wrong before". Numerous anti-abortion signs showed photographs of fetuses.
Counting does not begin until Saturday morning, with official result expected later in the day.
The exit poll showed "an overwhelming desire for change that nobody has foreseen", wrote Irish Times deputy political editor Fiach Kelly.
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By the time both sessions ended Thursday evening, each side had their time before reporters' microphones. But, after complaints by both parties, they added a second session for top Democrats and Republicans.
Canvassers were out on the streets holding up signs and wearing t-shirts.
Emma Leahy said her "yes" vote comes from her firm belief that everyone should be able to make their own choice when it comes to abortion. "One of my best friends had to do it". Dr. Halappanavar was admitted to a hospital while having a miscarriage. "She had to get a flight to Liverpool with her parents".
She and her family all voted yes, but she is still nervous of the result. The Irish people, not wanting to follow suit, successfully led a campaign to amend the Constitution, Section 8, and it was put on an election ballot.
"The 8th did not create an unborn child's right to life - it merely acknowledged it", McGuirk said. Ireland has always been one of Europe's most socially conservative countries, and contraception was only fully legalized in 1985, while divorce was banned until 1995. "There isn't one easy solution but people are suffering and we need to change it", she said.
Leo Varadkar, Ireland's prime minister, or taoiseach, leaves a Dublin polling station after casting his vote in Friday's referendum.
The Irish Times has said that the vote has received an "unusually high turnout". The margin of error is estimated at +/- 1.5 per cent. "But that's what everybody thought when Brexit happened". Just like we are capable of choosing contraception, choosing to use consent, choosing how we vote.
"The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right", the current amendment states.
The referendum, if passed, would allow abortions up to 12 weeks into a pregnancy and in limited circumstances later, where fatal fetal abnormalities are present.