Repeal won't lead to abortion free-for-all, says Varadkar
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said abortion will not be unrestricted if the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution is repealed.
Mr Varadkar also said Irish abortion laws would not be less restrictive than legislation in the UK if the electorate voted Yes in the forthcoming referendum.
Speaking at the launch of Fine Gael's 'Vote Yes' campaign, the Taoiseach said: "A Yes vote does not mean there will be no restrictions; there will be a waiting period of 72 hours to allow for reflection, and counselling to allow alternatives to be offered and considered.
"Terminations beyond 12 weeks will remain illegal except in very specific circumstances. Viable pregnancies will not be aborted. Instead the baby will be delivered early."
He said the Government would respect whatever vote was passed in the referendum.
He added it was "hard to believe" that there hadn't been a tragic death from the unregulated use of abortion pills by Irish women. He said the Constitution needed to be changed to ensure nine women a day were no longer forced to travel to other countries to terminate pregnancies.
"In the Ireland of 2018, we still export our problems and import our solutions. In the Ireland of 2018, we turn a blind eye and cold shoulder on our sisters, nieces, daughters, colleagues and friends," he said.
"No more. May 25 is Ireland's chance to come of age as a nation by voting Yes and allowing Ireland to become a country in which we trust women and trust doctors to decide what's right."
Culture Minister Josepha Madigan, who is campaign co-ordinator for Fine Gael members supporting a Yes vote, described the country's abortion laws as "medieval" and a "constitutional straitjacket".
"The Eighth Amendment has done nothing to stop women availing of abortion services," she said. "It has simply forced them to travel in their droves across the Irish Sea to other countries. We can no longer pretend this is acceptable."
Ms Madigan said she was "ashamed" that women were being forced to travel abroad for abortions.
Health Minister Simon Harris said the use of abortion pills was a "reality" for many Irish women.
Mr Harris said the country's laws "heap cruelty" on couples affected by fatal foetal abnormalities and "further traumatise" victims of rape and incest.
"It is about facing the reality that in Ireland today women and girls who become pregnant as a result of rape are prevented from being cared for at home, if they don't want to continue the pregnancy, and that families who are already devastated by the diagnosis of fatal foetal abnormality are forced to go elsewhere for care, if they make the difficult decision to terminate the pregnancy," he said.