While the questions of how parties seek to address (or not) pressing issues are critically important, scholars have generally paid little attention to where issues are addressed within the political system, and the consequences for party competition of that choice. The fact that issues can be addressed within several institutional (i.e. functional) domains and levels – general elections, parliament, referenda, courts, local government, etc. – implies that political parties may address an issue, and thereby interact with one another, in consequentially different ways depending on the institutional arena or level of government wherein they seek resolution. This article describes how Ireland’s parties addressed the electorally volatile issue of abortion via referendum campaigns. The article draws upon multiple sources of evidence to support its findings, including original data based on results from the author’s two parliamentary surveys following the 2007 and 2011 election campaigns.