Irish government agrees to hold referendum on abortion 'by end of May'

Michele Moreno
January 30, 2018

However, the Government is expected to outline proposals for a potential law change that it would put before the Dáil in the event of the Eighth Amendment being repealed.

Ireland's cabinet will hold a special meeting this evening to pave the way for a historic referendum on the country's abortion laws. However, it will only be enacted if the people voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

Leo Varadkar is expected to outline the government's stance on the issue following a Cabinet meeting in Dublin to discuss details of the plebiscite.

Pro-choice campaigners say the amendment creates a legal "chill factor" in the health system, even in cases where Irish law allows for a termination, such as when a pregnancy would result in the mother's death.

A new constitutional clause empowering the Oireachtas to legislate for abortion will not prevent challenges being taken in the Supreme Court to any future legislation, the attorney general will advise the cabinet tomorrow.

Mr Varadkar has said he will campaign to liberalise Ireland's abortion laws, saying they "are too restrictive and need to be liberalised". The public will not vote on the specifics of how the law will change.

The committee proposed that terminations without restriction should be allowed for up to 12 weeks.

It is a view shared by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, who support a parliamentary committee's recommendations for unrestricted access to abortion for 12 weeks.

Voters will be asked if they wish to repeal the eighth amendment of the constitution that was inserted in 1983 and which enshrined the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child, and to instead enable parliament to set the laws.

In a pastoral letter to churches on Sunday the bishop of Elphin, Dr Kevin Doran, claimed that abolition of the eighth and introduction of abortion in Irish hospitals would pave the way for euthanasia in Ireland.

Other reports by Insurance News

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