Saturday 7 December 2019

Five things you need to know after historic Cabinet meeting

Ireland abortion laws
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A four-hour Cabinet meeting on Monday night saw a number of significant decisions taken. Here is everything you need to know:

Ministers voted to hold a referendum:

Cabinet ministers voted unanimously to hold a referendum asking voters if they want to repeal the Eighth Amendment which gives equal status to a mother and her unborn child.

But the referendum question went further than many expected:

the Attorney General has compiled advice to the effect that it is not enough to simply repeal the Eighth Amendment which gives equal rights to a mother and her unborn child.

He has recommended that a new line be inserted into the Constitution, giving direct power for legislation on abortion to the Oireachtas.

Not everyone at Cabinet agrees on what to do in the event of the referendum passing:

There was “diversity of opinion” around the table on recommendations allowing access to abortion up to 12 weeks without restriction, according to Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Ministers will have a free vote on subsequent legislation.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar will be campaigning for repeal:

Confirming his position in favour of recommendations allowing abortion up to 12 weeks, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the reality is that Ireland “already has abortion, but it is unsafe.”

He said “women from every county are risking their lives” by obtaining abortion tablets through “the post.”

What happens next?

Minister Simon Harris will publish the Referendum Bill and the month of March will be dominated by the bill with the referendum taking place in the month of May.

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