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Ireland to vote on repealing anti-abortion amendment in May

The Irish government proposed to have a referendum on mitigation of the abortion law passed at the end of May, the news agencies reported.

A spokesman said: "The Government's commitment to hold a referendum to remove the constitutional barrier which denies full healthcare in Ireland to all those who can become pregnant".

The union said in a statement: "Millions of our young people have not had the opportunity to vote on this issue, and arguably it affects our future generations more than any others".

After a Cabinet meeting on Monday, he said:"We know that thousands of Irish women - women from every single county in Ireland - go overseas for abortions every year".

The vote will decide whether the Eighth Amendment to the Irish Constitution, which effectively bans termination of pregnancy, should be revoked with an amendment. In practice, Irish legal authorities have interpreted this as a ban on abortion in nearly all circumstances.

Ireland is to carry out at the end of May a referendum over reforming an amendment which bans abortion.

The upcoming referendum, where the wording has not been decided, would not approve legislation to legalize abortion, but only remove the constitutional barrier to doing so.

Openly gay Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar is expected to outline the government's stance on the issue after a Cabinet meeting to discuss details of the plebiscite, but has said he will campaign to liberalise the law.

At a press conference, accompanied by health minister Simon Harris and Minister for Children Katherine Zappone, Mr Varadkar said: "This evening the Cabinet gave formal approval to the holding of a referendum on abortion which will be held in late May or early June this year".

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According to UK Department of Health, more than 3000 Irish women had abortions in clinics across the UK and Wales. "It will be the 36th amendment to the Constitution".

The exact date of a vote, rumoured to be May 25, on the question of repealing the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution is to be determined once politicians vote on legislation to hold a referendum.

"I can not stand over a situation where the abortion pill is illegally accessed in this country and women, perhaps in the privacy of their own bedroom, in a lonely isolated place, [are] taking a pill without any medical supervision".

Varadkar's decision received support from National Women's Council of Ireland. The teenager had expressed a wish to kill herself rather than carry the baby to term.

He said people are to make their own decision based on evidence, compassion and empathy.

Thousands of Irish women already travel overseas for abortion or obtain pills that are taken without medical supervision, he said, adding that Ireland could not continue to "export our problems and import our solutions" on abortion.

The public will not vote on the specifics of how the law will change. One particularly harrowing case was in 2012 when Savita Halappanavar was refused an abortion despite the fact her baby was miscarrying, resulting in complications of a septic miscarriage. She was 17 weeks into her pregnancy.

Demonstrators participate at The March for Choice event in Dublin, Ireland, last year, calling for a change to Ireland's strict abortion laws. 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.

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