Taoiseach concerned that abortion proposals 'go too far'

Leo Varadker

Mr Varadkar said there were diverse views at cabinet during a discussion about the likely referendum on the Eighth Amendment.

"For a lot of people, not just in cabinet, a lot of people in the country, the proposal to allow for the termination of pregnancies up to 12 weeks went further than many people would have anticipated", he said.

He also said that having read the committee's report he understands the logic behind posing that question to voters given the widespread availability of abortion pills.

The referendum is expected to take place early this summer.

It called for the amendment to be repealed. The Oireachtas committee on the Eighth Amendment last month recommended deleting the controversial amendment and not replacing it with a new reference to abortion in the constitution....

The Cabinet will consider changes to Ireland's abortion laws this morning.

An Taoiseach said before the Christmas break that he wished to study the report and discuss it with the Fine Gael party and government ministers before making his views known.

The committee found that the current laws which allow for a pregnancy to be terminated if a woman's life was at risk have created significant difficulties. No other legislative proposals on abortion are being prepared.

Mr Varadkar would not be drawn on his own view and said he would have to see the referendum question first.

Varadkar said there was "strong consensus" that a referendum be held this year but he declined to say on which side he'll be campaigning.

He'll reveal his views in the coming weeks and says he will campaign on the issue. "But then again, perhaps not", Mr Varadkar said.

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However, Minister of State at the Department of Finance Patrick O'Donovan said he had a "different view".

A number of Ministers have also expressed doubt that the public will support legislation giving effect to the recommendations of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment.

First, however, the measure has to get through the Cabinet debate today.

He said: "I support repeal".

"I don't believe that this is an issue that should be in our constitution", he said. I want to acknowledge that this has been a very challenging issue, a very sensitive issue over the past 35 years.

However, the Pro-Life Campaign criticised the moves towards a referendum. I know other parties are going to do the same.

She said: "I continue to consult with the people of my constituency".

We didn't come to any final decisions today, we want there to be more consultation.

The Dáil will debate the Committee's report for three days next week, which will be preceded by a special meeting of the Fine Gael parliamentary party next Monday.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said TDs and senators will be allowed a free vote on the issue.

Ministers were told that a referendum could be held in late May or early June.

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