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Ireland to hold referendum on abortion laws

Ireland will hold a referendum on its abortion laws by the end of May, says Leo Varadkar, the Irish Prime Minister, on Tuesday.

Varadkar made the announcement at a press conference after the cabinet meeting had formally approved a referendum on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland.

The constitution virtually forbids abortions in the country.

He said the referendum would ask citizens whether they want to retain the amendment or enable the Dail, the lower house of the Irish parliament, to make a new law that will allow abortion in hospitals up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Report says the 8th Amendment recognises the equal right to the life of the mother and the foetus.

It was signed into law one month after a referendum in September 1983 with almost 67 per cent voting against abortions.

“We have abortion in Ireland, but it is unsafe, unregulated and unlawful, and in my opinion we cannot export our problems and import our solutions,’’ Varadkar said.

Abortion in Ireland is illegal unless performed to save the life of the expectant mother.

Many Irish women have to travel to other countries for abortion or source abortion pills from abroad online.

In recent times, however, an increasing number of people have been supporting a more liberalised abortion law.

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