Ireland is having a referendum over its abortion law

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

Ireland's government will give voters their first chance in 35 years to decide whether to repeal the country's restrictive abortion laws, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced on Monday.

This includes the thousands of women who travel from Ireland to England in order to access abortion.

There was also a vote a year ago by the Citizens Assembly, a public forum which advises the Irish government, resulting in 87% in favour of changing abortion laws.

Abortion is already permitted in Ireland when a women's health or life is in danger, and some Irish women travel to the United Kingdom for abortions.

Report says the 8th Amendment recognises the equal right to the life of the mother and the foetus.

"I hope we will live together in an Ireland someday soon where abortion is safe, legal and rare".

Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: "We are heartened at today's government backing for legislation framed around a 12-week "on request" model for abortion access, with later gestational limits in specific circumstances".

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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".

Mr Varadkar defended the decision to publish a summary of the advice of the Attorney General to the Government on the issue of the referendum.

"Whether the Eighth Amendment is in our Constitution, or indeed not in our Constitution, abortion is a reality for Irish women", Harris said. "We can not continue to export our problem and import our solution".

The exact date will be known following the conclusion of a debate and vote in the Dail and the Seanad, however Mr Varadkar said he was "confident that this timeline could be met". Pregnancies as a result of rape and incest are now not allowed to be aborted, nor is an abortion permitted if there is a fatal foetal abnormality.

Education Minister Richard Bruton is amongst those Cabinet ministers who support both a repeal of the Eighth Amendment and subsequent legislation which will allow for the termination of pregnancies up to 12 weeks.

The Tanaiste's decision to back repeal of the Eighth Amendment but not unrestricted terminations up to 12 weeks has freed many in the party uncomfortable with the Government's referendum stance.

'As Taoiseach - as a medical doctor - and as a former Minister for Health - I do not believe we can continue with a situation where women in crisis are risking their lives through the use of unregulated medicines'. "It deceives women - and men - by creating a culture where the decision to end the life of an unborn child is portrayed as simply a matter of individual 'choice, '" he continued.

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