Belfast Telegraph

Date for abortion referendum to be confirmed this week

May 25 is thought to be the preferred date for voters to decide whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

A date for a referendum on Ireland’s strict legal framework on abortion is set to be confirmed this week, the health minister has said.

Simon Harris said the procedural and legislative timetable was on track to enable a vote at the end of May.

May 25 is widely seen as the likely date of the referendum.

Citizens will be asked whether they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment of Ireland’s constitution, a provision that makes abortion illegal in all but exceptional circumstances, and replace it with wording that hands responsibility for setting the country’s abortion laws to politicians.

I expect we will be in a position to set the polling day this week so that the people of Ireland can know exactly what day in May this referendum will take place and I think that is important in terms of providing people with certainty about making sure that they can be in the country to vote Simon Harris, Health Minister

If the public vote to repeal the Eighth Amendment, the Government intends to table legislation that would permit women to abort within 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Mr Harris outlined details of that legislation to cabinet colleagues in Government Buildings, Dublin on Tuesday.

“I have set out a very detailed and ambitious and demanding timetable that we would facilitate a referendum by the end of May and I am pleased to say that is firmly on track,” he said outside Government Buildings.

“I expect we will be in a position to set the polling day this week so that the people of Ireland can know exactly what day in May this referendum will take place and I think that is important in terms of providing people with certainty about making sure that they can be in the country to vote.”

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Marchers calling for the repeal of the Eighth Amendment (Niall Carson/PA)

Ahead of the meeting, deputy premier Simon Coveney proposed that if new laws come into being, any subsequent change to that legislation would need a two thirds majority in the Dail parliament.

Critics have claimed such a “super majority” requirement would be unconstitutional.

Access to abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy would be accompanied by rigid medical protocols, including a pause period between requesting an abortion pill and it being prescribed.

The proposed laws will also outlaw late-term abortions, other than in medical emergency situations.

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