Irish government approves wording of referendum on repeal of abortion law

(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.

The Irish government has approved the wording of the referendum that would determine whether or not to repeal Eight Amendment of the country's constitution, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn child.

In the referendum that has been scheduled to take place in May, the voters will be asked whether they agree with the statement: "Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies."

According to Catholic Herald, the Eighth Amendment will be repealed if voters approve, paving the way for the Irish government to liberalize the country's abortion laws.

The ballot wording was announced by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on International Women's Day, saying the referendum was about "trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what's right for them and their families."

Dr. Ruth Cullen of the Pro-Life Campaign had criticized the government's decision to release the ballot wording on International Women's Day, saying it was "hijacking" the day to push for abortion.

"Today should be a day about looking for ways to work together to find positive alternatives to abortion. It should be a day that we also celebrate the bond of mother and baby and challenge those in power to provide the necessary supports so that no woman ever feels she has no choice but to go down the road of abortion," she said.

"Instead International Women's Day 2018 is being used as part of the government's choreography to introduce abortion on demand into Ireland. The way the day is being exploited is a total betrayal of women and their unborn babies," she added.

Apart from the wording of the referendum, the government is also planning to release a document that would set out how it intends to regulate abortion.

The Irish Times reported that the document highlights 21 policy principles that would inform the drafting of legislation on abortion.

Under the proposal, abortions will be allowed up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, but a time period must elapse between "between the initial assessment by a medical practitioner and the termination of a pregnancy being carried out."

Abortions after the first trimester could be performed in cases when a mother's health or life is at risk as well as cases of fetal conditions that could result in death before or shortly after birth.

Government sources have reportedly stated that late-term abortions would still be illegal as most pregnancies were viable after the 23rd week.

The document will also commit to the decriminalization of women who obtain an abortion, but those who are found to perform the procedure outside the law will still face a 14-year prison sentence, according to Irish Times.

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