Dáil Concludes Debate On Bill Enabling Referendum On The 8th Amendment

Simon Harris said the Government wants to give people their say

Dáil Concludes Debate On Bill Enabling Referendum On The 8th Amendment

The date has not been announced, nor has the wording for the referendum itself.

The Irish government plans to hold the referendum at the end of May.

Ireland's Health Minister Simon Harris said it was "very appropriate and fitting" that the wording was approved on International Women's Day.

Currently, the penalty for an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison and they are only allowed legally if the mother's life is at risk from the pregnancy.

The cabinet unanimously agreed to propose inserting the words "provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies" into the Constitution should the Eighth Amendment be repealed.

The bill formally allows for a referendum to be called.

If Ireland votes in favour of repeal, the government has said it will introduce legislation permitting unrestricted abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

The Supreme Court has now overruled the findings, deciding that the unborn has no constitutional rights beyond the right to life.

Dáil Concludes Debate On Bill Enabling Referendum On The 8th Amendment

"If this Oireachtas facilitates a referendum, I will be casting my ballot for repeal and asking others to do the same because I can not live any longer with a law that sees a woman or a girl who has been brutally raped forced to continue her pregnancy or travel to another country if she can not", he said.

In the referendum, voters will be asked if they want to repeal the eighth amendment, which declares that unborn foetuses and pregnant women an equal right to life.

The standard European approach to the lawfulness of abortion is to make access to abortion legal, at least in early pregnancy, either on a woman's request without restriction as to reason or for reasons of distress, or on broad socioeconomic or psychological grounds.

He added: "Above all it's about trusting Irish people to consider this matter in depth, with compassion and empathy, as I know they will".

Responding to the proposals, Ms Simons said "Ireland would go from a country that protected and respected unborn human life, to one of the most extreme and unjust abortion regimes anywhere in the world".

The government will formally establish the Referendum Commission on Friday. Explaining the ruling, barrister Paul Anthony McDermott told RTÉ's Morning Ireland: "What the Supreme Court has said in a nutshell is that other than the right to life, all your constitutional rights start at birth".

The Referendum Commission is an independent statutory body that must be established in advance of any referendum in Ireland to provide unbiased information to the public about the issue.

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