As abortion vote is set, Irish bishops encourage respect for life

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Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced Monday that the referendum to be held in late May will ask voters if they want to keep the anti-abortion amendment or repeal it so parliament can consider new legislation.

Laws against abortion have been supported by the Catholic Church, which views the procedure as a mortal sin and has a large, if waning, influence on life in Ireland.

Currently, Irish law allows abortion only when a woman's life is at risk. A termination is legal only in rare cares when a woman's life is in danger.

"We've worked so hard to get to this point and we want a very simple question to the people", she said.

On Saturday, Mr Varadkar said he would be campaigning to liberalise Ireland's abortion laws, which are among the most restrictive in Europe He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the terms "pro-life" and "pro-choice" can be misunderstood.

Health Minister Simon Harris was given permission by the ministers to begin work on legislation that would see unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks allowed in Ireland, however, a source indicated that this could be a topic for discussion at another time.

More than 3,000 Irish women traveled to Britain for abortions in 2016, according to statistics released by United Kingdom health officials that say more than 160,000 have done so since 1980. My own views have evolved over time. "Life experience does that".

"In recent weeks many people, mainly men, have spoken about the personal journeys they have been on".

Cabinet is expected to adopt a collective stance, but Mr Varadkar has said ministers will have a free vote. Health Minister Simon Harris said it is "offensive" to suggest that women would seek abortion due to their child's disability.

If the amendment is adopted by the people, the Oireachtas would have an express power to legislate to regulate termination of pregnancy as it considers appropriate, in the same way as it legislates in every other area of policy.

Ireland's Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, will campaign for the repeal of the 8th amendment. He added that whatever difficulties politicians faced in coming to their decision, it paled in comparison to what women in Ireland have faced for decades.

"We are on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use our voices and votes to stand up for the human rights and equality of women and girls". To no small degree, this has been due in large part to the overwhelming influence of the Catholic Church in the small country, which led to relatively conservative policies on social issues in the nation even when it was ruled from parties on the left-leaning side of the political spectrum.

Abortions pertaining to cases of rape and incest are not permitted.