The poll says that 68 percent voted yes, and 32 percent voted against. An RTE/Behaviour & Attitudes survey put the margin at 69 percent to 31 percent.
As NPR's Alice Fordham noted Thursday, Ireland in recent years "has legalized easier access to contraception, divorce, homosexuality and same-sex marriage" - becoming the first country in the world, in fact, to legalize gay marriage by popular vote.
"If exit polls are reflected in the official vote count later today, this will be a moment of profound change in Ireland's social history, a moment when the nation collectively stood up for women and for their healthcare, and voted for constitutional change".
The Irish Constitution's Eighth Amendment, adopted in 1983, reads: "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 UN Human Rights Committee has been calling for an end to Ireland's near-total abortion ban for long, but it was the case of an India-origin woman that sparked a rebellion.
Early tallies and two separate exit polls show that the "Yes" side is expected to win by a landslide.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan called it "another big step out of our dark past".
"It is a hard decision but I just feel I don't have the right to take life", she said.
Abortion was illegal in Ireland under the Offences against the Person Act of 1861, but when contraception was legalised in 1974, there was concern from many conservatives that abortions would follow.
PAAn exit poll is a poll of voters taken as they leave polling stations
Yet the Irish Times exit poll showed overwhelming majorities in all age groups under 65 voted for change, including nearly nine in every 10 voters under the age of 24. With a turnout of 53 per cent which amounted to 1.2 million people, almost 67 per cent voted Yes and over 33 per cent voted No.
At least 170,000 Irish women are believed to have had abortions outside the country since 1980.
Thousands of Irish women every year cross the channel to have an abortion in the UK.
After that, abortions will only be allowed until the 24th week of pregnancy if there is a risk to a woman's life, or a risk of serious harm to the physical or mental health of a woman.
The Irish government is planning to bring legislation before the Dáil, providing for abortion on request up to the 12th week of pregnancy, with a three-day "cooling off" period before abortion medication is administered.
Women accessing illegal abortions can receive a maximum 14-year jail sentence, but the law allows them to travel overseas for an abortion, resulting in several thousand Irish women travelling to the United Kingdom each year to terminate their pregnancies.
Videos shared on social media showed scores of voters arriving home at Irish airports from overseas.
Only those away for less than 18 months are eligible to vote in the referendums, but this has still led to an overwhelming majority of people arriving home to make their voice heard.
They chronicled their journeys on social media using the hashtag #HomeToVote, sharing thousands of powerful and poignant stories. Many posted photos of themselves wearing sweatshirts bearing the "Repeal" slogan.
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