Irish government approves abortion referendum bill

A representative image Photograph:( Zee News Network )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Mar 09, 2018, 06.48 AM (IST)

With an aim to radically transform the lives of thousands of women, the Irish government has given a green signal to a national referendum on abortion to be held by the end of May. 

The Irish ministers formally approved the referendum bill at a cabinet meeting on the occasion of International Women's Day on Thursday. 

The voters will be asked if they want to repeal article 40.3.3, called eighth amendment, which since 1983 has given unborn foetuses and pregnant women an equal right to life. 

If Irish people vote in favour of repeal, the government has said it will introduce legislation permitting unrestricted abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.

As of now, the termination is only allowed in the case when the life of the mother is at risk.

The maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

"This referendum is about asking our citizens to allow women to make major decisions for themselves. It`s about trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what`s right for them and their families," Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said.

The bill will be debated in parliament over the next 24 hours, and full details will be published on Friday.