Irish Government begins special meeting over abortion referendum

30 January, 2018, 01:44 | Author: Edward Snyder

Successive governments, fearing a backlash, have avoided introducing laws to fasten down the meaning of a 1992 Supreme Court ruling granting women the right to an abortion when the mother's life is at risk.

The Cabinet has agreed to hold a referendum on the repeal of the eighth amendment, with the date likely to be held in late May.

A clear majority of all voters - 56% - said they would vote in favour of the constitutional change, with 29% not in favour, and 15% saying they did not know or offering no opinion, according to an Irish Times poll published last week.

As the Cabinet meets to discuss a referendum on Ireland's abortion laws, RTÉ's Political Correspondent Mícheál Lehane looks at what the Taoiseach and his ministers will decide tonight.

At this evening's meeting, ministers are set to give the Health Minister Simon Harris permission to draft the referendum bill.

It is anticipated the Taoiseach will back calls for repeal and support the 12-week unrestricted abortion recommendation.




Thousands of Irish women now travel overseas for abortions every year, mainly to England.

Last December, a report by a specially convened parliamentary committee found that the section of the state's constitution that confers equal rights on the mother and unborn child - the Eighth Amendment - was not fit for goal and should be repealed.

Earlier this year, the government announced a general timeline for several referendums to be held throughout 2018 and 2019, including the long-awaited vote on the eighth amendment.

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. Kerrigan said: "It is imperative that young people and students are given the opportunity to vote on the eighth amendment".

Asked about his previous position, Varadkar said that his views had evolved in recent years.

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