A United Nations watchdog has raised particular concerns about the welfare of women in Ireland since the death of a woman after she miscarried.
Anand Grover said abortion should be legal if a pregnancy is adversely impacting on a woman's health, and not just her life.
Arguing that the life of a mother is much more important than the right of the unborn, the UN special rapporteur on the right to health also accused countries that criminalise abortion of discriminating against woman, particularly the marginalised, poor and minorities.
"You cannot limit availability and accessibility of health services, goods and facilities only on the basis of life exception," said Mr Grover speaking on the grounds for terminations.
"If it impacts adversely on the woman's health or the right to health, that should be a ground."
The Cabinet is due to decide on Tuesday on whether it will introduce legislation, or a combination of legislation and regulation, to reform the country's limited ban on abortion in the new year.
Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar died at Galway University Hospital on October 28, 17 weeks into her pregnancy. She suffered septicaemia following her miscarriage.
The dead woman's husband Praveen claims doctors refused to carry out an abortion because a foetal heartbeat was present. He says they were told Ireland "is a Catholic country".
A statutory inquiry and an HSE clinical inquiry in to the death of the 31-year-old are continuing.
Mr Grover, a lawyer, was in Dublin to give a keynote address at a conference and not in his official role. But he said he has already had discussions with Government officials in Ireland over the abortion controversy.