Ireland gets vote on abortion
THE Irish Government will hold a national referendum “by the end of May” on reforming the country’s strict anti-abortion laws.
Openly gay Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar is expected to outline the government’s stance on the issue after a Cabinet meeting, but has said he will campaign to liberalise the law.
Cabinet is expected to adopt a collective stance, but Mr Varadkar has said ministers will have a free vote.
“If the referendum is passed, a doctor-led, safe and legal system for the termination of pregnancy will be introduced,” he wrote on Twitter.
Terminations are allowed in the Republic of Ireland only when the life of the mother is at risk. Illegal abortion carries a jail term of up to 14 years.
The referendum will focus on the section of the Constitution that confers equal rights on a pregnant woman and her unborn child.
More than three quarters of the population is Catholic.
A committee recommended abortion be available up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without a woman having to explain her decision, and expectant mothers be allowed an abortion at any stage if doctors diagnosed a fetal abnormality likely to result in death before or soon after birth.