Dáil Concludes Debate On Bill Enabling Referendum On The 8th Amendment

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According to RTE, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "On my first day as Taoiseach I committed to holding a referendum this year".

Medical practitioners will also have a contentious objection, so if they do not feel comfortable allowing abortions they will not have to.

Mr Harris also said he was looking into introducing a system of free contraception in an effort to reduce pregnancies. The referendum, slated for the end of May, will be putting a possible repeal of the Eighth Amendment to the Irish people.

In line with the parliamentary committee's recommendation, the bill proposes to permit termination up to 12 weeks of pregnancy without specific indication.

"Contrary to some assertions, such provision would not make Ireland an outlier internationally", Mr Harris said.

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The initial judgment related to an immigration case in which a Nigerian man sought to revoke a 2008 deportation order in proceedings initiated eight years later on the basis that his Irish partner was at that time pregnant with their child.

"I think what the Supreme Court did was it showed how lucky we are to have the Eighth Amendment".

"It's about trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what's right for them and their families. It is clear beyond any doubt from today's announcement from Government that a vote for repeal is a vote for abortion on demand up to birth", she added.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said she recognised the 12-week proposal was challenging for some people, as it represented a marked departure in practice.

The move comes after a Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that protections for the unborn child offered under the state's constitution do not extend beyond the right to life.

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"We the women of Ireland inherited a Republic of misogyny, a Republic of cruelty, and an Oireachtas, a Dail and Seanad that has been, and in many cases still is, a cold place for women and girls".

Speaking outside Leinster House, Harris said it was appropriate that this decision was taken on International Women's Day, and that he would campaign enthusiastically in favour of repealing the eighth amendment.

On Friday the Irish government will formally establish a referendum commission, chaired by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, which will provide unbiased information to the public about the issue.

The debate is due on continue today until 4pm.

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