Ireland to vote on repealing anti-abortion amendment in May

Author

31 January, 2018

The Irish government has agreed to hold a referendum on the possibility of legalising abortion.

The appeal comes after the Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, confirmed that Ireland will hold a referendum in May on whether to lift its constitutional ban on abortion.

The referendum will focus on the fate of the Eighth Amendment, the section of the Constitution that confers equal rights on a pregnant woman and her unborn child. It adopted the Attorney General's recommendation that an enabling clause be inserted to provide greater legal certainty for the Oireachtas to legislate for termination of pregnancy.

The timing of the referendum will depend on the passage of a referendum Bill through the Oireachtas.

"But I am confident that this timeline can be met".

News of the vote was commended by organizations such as Amnesty International, which has campaigned against the law and whose Ireland director Colm O'Gorman said the country is "on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use our voices and votes to stand up for the human rights and equality of women and girls". Varadkar has previously described himself as "pro-life".

However, the Clare TD said he is trying to "distinguish my views between my own experiences and what's best for society as a whole".

Vradakar stated that every year thousands of women travel from Ireland to the United Kingdom for abortions, or they simply purchase an abortion pill online.

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The vote will only decide if the ban on abortions will be kept or repealed.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said Ireland already had abortion, but it was unsafe, unregulated and unlawful. "We can not persist with a situation where women in need are risking their lives", he continued.

Throwing his weight behind the issue, Varadkar said he can not allow the Irish problem to be exported.

Trade Minister Pat Breen, Sports Minister Brendan Griffin and Government Chief Whip Joe McHugh said they now support repeal but have doubts over whether they could vote for unrestricted abortion.

Ahead of the Cabinet meeting, Health Minister Simon Harris said that he would outline proposals for a potential law change that he would put before parliament if the Eighth Amendment was repealed.

If the amendment in the constitution is repealed, any draft legislation would only become law if the Dail voted for it, and that is not a foregone conclusion given the Fine Gael coalition is a minority administration and TDs will vote on conscience.

ReutersAn anti-abortion protester attempts to interrupt a demonstration urging the government in the Republic of Ireland to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution, which enforces strict limitations to a woman's right to an abortion.


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