Voting on abortion law referendum set for May

A bill that could open the way for an abortion law change is before the Republic of Ireland’s parliament.

The public will be asked to vote on the bill at the end of May.

Voters will be asked if they want to remove the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution, which provides for the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn.

If passed, the Eighth Amendment would be altered to enable politicians to set the country’s abortion laws in the future.

The bill is about “giving the people of Ireland a say in how Ireland treats women,” Ireland’s Minister for Health, Simon Harris says.

He says even if the Eighth Amendment remained it would not stop abortion.

The Irish government says that if the Yes vote wins it will push legislation through parliament later this year to allow abortions to be carried out up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

Ireland’s Catholic bishops say repealing the Eighth Amendment “would leave unborn children at the mercy of whatever permissive abortion laws might be introduced in Ireland in the future.”

They stressed “human life begins at conception” and the right to life “is not given to us by the Constitution of Ireland or by any law. We have it ‘as of right’.”

The bishops have called on Catholics to “work actively” to resist change.

They warned that changing the Irish Constitution would serve no purpose other than to withdraw the right to life from some categories of unborn children.

“To do so would radically change the principle, for all unborn children and indeed for all of us, that the right to life is a fundamental human right,” they say.


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