Referendum on eighth amendment likely to be held in May

Posted January 30, 2018

To hold abortion referendum by the end of May.

When asked directly if he will campaign in favour of repealing the Eighth Amendment and to change Ireland's existing laws regarding abortion, the Taoiseach responded by saying "I'll be campaigning for them to be changed and to be liberalised, yes".

According to RTÉ News, the junior minister made the comments ahead of a special Cabinet meeting due to take place tomorrow, where the government is expected to finalise its plans on how to proceed with the upcoming referendum.

The proposed national plebiscite will also allow for the Irish parliament to later devise legislation that would permit abortion in Ireland's hospitals at up to 12 weeks.

Terminations are now only allowed in the Republic of Ireland when the life of the mother is at risk.

The Eighth Amendment was signed into Irish law in October 1983, following a referendum the previous month.

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is expected to outline the Government's approach after the specially convened cabinet meeting in Government Buildings this evening.

Mr Varadkar announced on Saturday that he would be campaigning to liberalise the law. His boss, Finance Minister Pascal Donohoe, has indicated support for repeal and allowing unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks.

"If the referendum is passed, a doctor-led, safe and legal system for the termination of pregnancy will be introduced", he wrote on Twitter.

Varadkar's own party is split over what is arguably the most contentious issue in Irish politics.

The outcome of the referendum could also prompt a Supreme Court challenge over whether the Constitution as a whole contains an implied fundamental right for the unborn, on top of the specific terms of the Eighth Amendment.

There were clear signs from the latest opinion poll on the abortion question that voters may be as divided as the main political parties.

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