Ireland to hold abortion referendum in May

Voters will be asked if they wish to repeal the eighth amendment of the constitution that was inserted in 1983 and which enshrined the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child, and to instead enable parliament to set the laws.

Mr Varadkar is due to announce details on the Government's position on the referendum after a Cabinet meeting in Dublin on Monday evening.

The prime minister says his views have "evolved" since he described himself as "pro-life" in 2014.

Tonight's announcement, from Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Minister for Health Simon Harris, is a significant moment for the repeal campaign.

Varadkar told BBC radio that he will call for an easing of the extremely strict laws against abortion in Ireland, which bans the procedure even in cases of rape and cases where the fetus is suffering potentially fatal abnormalities. "I'll be campaigning for them to be changed".

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Speaking following the Cabinet meeting, Taoiseach Leo Varadker said: "We have abortion in Ireland but it is unsafe, unregulated and unlawful, and in my opinion we can not export our problems and import our solutions". Kerrigan stated that in choosing to hold the referendum around this time, the government would allow for the thousands of students sitting state exams, those travelling on J1 visas and young people on work placement throughout the summer to cast their vote.

While there is no exact date as of yet - a bill must pass through the Oireachtas first - the cabinet advocated for a referendum towards the end of May or early June.

Last December, a report by a specially convened Oireachtas committee found that Article 40.3.3 of the Constitution - which was passed in 1983 and is referred to as the Eighth Amendment - was not fit for objective and should be repealed.

"I know this will be a hard decision for the Irish people to make", Mr Varadkar said. It also showed that 113 Irish MPs and senators, a majority, support the repeal of the amendment, while 52 do not.

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