Ireland to hold referendum on abortion in May

Kevin Doran the Bishop of Elphin said the same justification for abortion could be used to justify killing frail elderly people

In response to an Irish Times/MRBI poll asking 'Will you vote to change the constitution so that the government can legislate for abortion up to 12 weeks, or will you vote to not change the constitution?' 56 per cent voted in favour, 29 per cent said they would vote against and 15 per cent did not know or offered no opinion.

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

Leo Varadkar said he hopes the referendum will be held this summer.

He said abortions are happening already but in a way that is "unsafe, unregulated and unlawful".

Catholic Bishop Kevin Doran, who is among those opposed to the liberalisation of laws, says the same arguments used to justify abortion will be used to justify ending the lives of the disabled or frail older people, state broadcaster RTE reports.

Terminations are now only allowed when the life of the mother is at risk, with the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.


Health Minister Simon Harris was also given permission to work on legislation that could see unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks introduced in Ireland.

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.

The public will be asked if they want to retain the Amendment or repeal and put a provision in the constitution to give the Oireachtas the power to set abortion laws.

"We'll talk about some of the timelines involved as to perhaps how quickly we can progress the referendum on the Eighth", Mr Murphy said.

Speaking on RTÉ's The Week in Politics, Mr O'Donovan said that while he believes the referendum should go ahead, he will not support a repeal vote.

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.

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