Ire­land gets vote on abor­tion

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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.

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