Government to reveal policy paper on abortion if 8th amendment is repealed

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says referendum is “to allow women to make major decisions for themselves”

The Department of Health states: "This paper outlines policies which the Government decided it would seek to give effect to in a General Scheme of a Bill regulating termination of pregnancy in Ireland should the proposed referendum be passed".

Speaking outside Government Buildings earlier today, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that it was appropriate that this decision was taken on International Women's Day.

Ms McDonald said she will hold an Ard Fheis in order for the party to re-examine the matter, although it most likely won't be in time for the referendum date in May.

The Referendum Commission will be established tomorrow.

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The government in January proposed holding a referendum to liberalize the abortion regime at the end of May, offering voters the first opportunity in 35 years to overhaul some of the world's strictest laws on the issue. It should be a day that we also celebrate the bond of mother and baby and challenge those in power to provide the necessary supports so that no woman ever feels she has no choice but to go down the road of abortion. This means that for a woman who is pregnant and her health is at risk, or where she is pregnant as a result of rape or has been diagnosed with a non-viable pregnancy, she can not receive abortion care in Ireland. Under these proposals, an appeals mechanism will be available to the woman in the event she is unsatisfied with the outcome.

In a landmark ruling, the seven-judge court has overturned a High Court decision last summer that affirmed the rights of the unborn child beyond the constitutionally protected right to life.

The Eighth Amendment of Ireland's Constitution enshrines the right to life of the unborn, rendering abortion illegal other than in exceptional circumstances.

The move follows a ruling by the Irish Supreme Court Wednesday that said the unborn have no constitutional rights outside of the Article.

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In a special sitting created to usher the referendum bill through the Dáil in time for a vote in late May, TD's have been restating their positions on repealing the Eighth Amendment.

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.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty, Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan and Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton also said they would campaign for repeal.

The Eighth Amendment protects unborn babies' right to life, but a referendum vote is scheduled for May on whether to repeal the amendment and legalize abortion on demand.

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