Şimal Çınar –TDO- On Monday the government of Ireland proposed a referendum to liberalize the country's abortion regulations which is being planned to be held at the end of May. The referendum will be asking to voters if they want to abolish the eighth amendment of the constitution that was inserted in 1983 and enshrined the equal right to life of the mother and her unborn child. This will be offering voters the first opportunity in 35 years to revise some of the world's strictest laws.

Abortion has been a disputed and sensitive issue in once strictly Catholic Ireland which is among just 50 countries that allow terminations only when a woman's life is at risk while rape, incest, or a foetal abnormality are not legitimate reasons for abortion. As Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Monday "I know this will be a difficult decision for the Irish people to make. For most of us, it is not a black-and-white issue, it is very grey." But recently the country is going through some social changes towards relaxing some laws.

According to a recent poll, 56% of Irish voters are in support of changes to Ireland's eighth amendment. The government also seemingly favor the removal since it is known that 113 Irish MPs and senators support the repeal of the amendment, while 52 are undecided or chose not to say. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar stated that he himself will give a “yes” vote to repeal the amendment by saying "We already have abortion -- unsafe, unregulated, unlawful." And the Prime Minister also said he thought long and hard and above all listened to women when deciding. "The saddest and loneliest journey is made by Irish women who travel to foreign countries to end their pregnancies. That doesn't have to happen," he said.

As a part of the preparation to referendum, the Health Minister Simon Harris will prepare a draft legislation proposing laws allowing for unrestricted abortions up to 12 weeks only permitting abortion after 12 weeks in exceptional circumstances.

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