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Bishop says he will vote to repeal Ireland's abortion laws in upcoming referendum

(Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne)Demonstrators take part in a protest to urge the Irish Government to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution, which enforces strict limitations on abortion, in Dublin, Ireland September 24, 2016.

A Church of Ireland bishop said that he will vote to repeal the Constitutional amendment that protects the life of the unborn child in the upcoming referendum because the language is "incorrigibly flawed."

In a letter posted on the diocesan website, Michael Burrows the bishop of Cashel, Ferns and Ossory, expressed his plan to vote for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn child.

Ireland is expected to hold the referendum this coming May. If passed, lawmakers will introduce legislation that would allow abortions within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

"While I may be anxious about what may happen next, I believe sufficiently in parliamentary democracy to hand the matter to legislators and indeed to trust them – that is their duty and their vocation," Burrows wrote.

The bishop further stated that "it would be tragic if the cynicism that often seems (largely unfairly) to surround politicians made us less than mindful of the privilege of living in a parliamentary democracy."

Burrows was said to be the first Irish bishop to declare his support for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, according to Irish Times.

Earlier this week, two bishops have expressed their opposition to rescinding the amendment, saying "unrestricted access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, or indeed at any stage, is not an ethical position we can accept."

Church of Ireland Primate, Archbishop Richard Clarke and Archbishop of Dublin Michael Jackson issued a statement asking parishioners to "think through the issues involved carefully and with prayer over these coming weeks."

Meanwhile, the government confirmed last week that the referendum will be held on May 25. The announcement came after all stages of the Seanad, Ireland's upper house, approved the bill to hold the referendum.

Minister for Housing and Local Government, Eoghan Murphy, urged voters to check their names on the register. He noted that the Referendum Commission has been created and is now preparing "very important factual information for the public."

Simon Harris, the Minister for Health, said that he cannot ensure that a law that would legalize abortion would be approved by the current government if voters choose to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

The government has proposed introducing a law that would allow access to abortions within the first trimester. But until that legislation is passed, the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act, which allows the procedure only in cases when a woman's life is at risk, will remain the law.

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