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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar  (AFP or licensors)

Ireland to hold abortion referendum in late May

Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Monday night announced details of a referendum on whether to lift a constitutional ban on most abortions. The Irish people will vote on the issue in late May.

The 1983 eighth amendment commits authorities to defend equally the right to life of a mother and an unborn child.

Abortion is legal only in rare cases when a woman's life is in danger.

The Irish Prime Minister or Taoiseach said voters will be asked whether they want to retain the amendment, or repeal it and hand responsibility for legislating on abortion to parliament.

In a pastoral letter to his parishioners at the weekend, Bishop Kevin Doran of Elphin and chair of the Catholic Bishops’ Consultative Group on Bioethics said that if society accepts that one human being has the right to end the life of another, then it is no longer possible to claim the right to life as a fundamental human right for anybody. He also voiced his concern “that the very same arguments which are now being used to justify abortion will be used to justify ending the lives of frail elderly people and people with significant disability”.

The Bishop noted that if the eighth amendment was removed from Ireland’s constitution  “the government would be left entirely free to introduce whatever abortion regime it chooses, now or at any time in the future”.

In the letter Bishop Doran invited people who are uncertain about how to vote or what to do, to pray daily for the gift of Wisdom, and to allow God’s Spirit to be their guide.           

If the eighth amendment is repealed abortion could be grant up to twelve weeks, with no restriction.

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30 January 2018, 12:48