Ireland to hold referendum on abortion law

The Irish government has said it will hold a referendum next year on whether to change the country’s laws on abortion, one of the strictest in Europe.

Voters will be asked to decide whether to change the Irish constitution under which abortion is only allowed if the life of the mother is in danger.

A woman convicted of having an illegal abortion faces up to 14 years in jail. But they are allowed to travel abroad for terminations.

The eighth amendment of the Irish constitution, introduced in 1983, gives an equal right to life to a pregnant woman and an unborn child.

However, thousands of women a year go abroad to have an abortion.

Ireland’s Prime Minister, Leo Varadkar said “Any amendment to our constitution requires careful consideration by the people. They should be given ample time to consider the issues and to take part in well-informed public debate.

“Setting a timetable for the referendums to be held over the next two years will allow all involved in campaigning on the issues to plan ahead and to facilitate that public debate.”

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