Ireland to hold abortion referendum in May

Irish bishop warns against giving government “blank check” on abortion

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Health Minister Simon Harris said the Cabinet would like the vote to be held in May at a press conference.

Ministers decide on Monday how best to go about a referendum vote on the subject that will ask the Irish people if the constitution's eighth amendment should be abolished.

Varadkar said debates and votes would be held in the lower and upper houses of parliament, but he was "confident this timeline can be met" for a referendum in late May.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said that he will campaign for reform.

The Taoiseach will be campaigning for the liberalisation of Ireland's abortion laws in the forthcoming referendum.

While there is no exact date as of yet - a bill must pass through the Oireachtas first - the cabinet advocated for a referendum towards the end of May or early June.

The 1983 amendment commits authorities to defend equally the right to life of a mother and an unborn child, giving this largely Roman Catholic nation the strictest abortion ban in Europe.

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"If the Eighth Amendment is repealed, legislation to allow for abortion in certain circumstances will be brought before the Oireachtas".

Varadkar, who came to power in June previous year, pledged to hold the referendum following the non-binding recommendations of a Citizen's Assembly.

"I'll be campaigning for them to be changed and to be liberalised, yes".

The committee also recommended abortion be available up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without a woman having to explain her decision, and that the procedure should be allowed if the life or health of the woman was at risk.

It also called for expectant mothers to be allowed an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy if doctors diagnosed a foetal abnormality that was likely to result in death before or shortly after birth.

The referendum would be held ahead of a visit by Pope Francis in August.

The Attorney General Seamus Woulfe has previously advised the government against a "repeal simpliciter" of the eighth amendment.

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