Taoiseach concerned that abortion proposals 'go too far'

Leo Varadker

Update 7.55pm: Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said recommendations to allow abortion without restriction in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy went further than many people expected.

They'll discuss the Oireachtas Committee report on the 8th amendment which was published just before Christmas.

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

Both Ministers, however, told their colleagues they supported the Oireachtas committee recommendation allowing for abortion on request up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.

Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty was understood to have expressed similar reservations.

"The Red C poll that was done in November shows that 60% of people supported this particular demand that Mr Varadkar is so terrified about which is abortion at the request of the person themselves up to 12 weeks", Ms Coppinger said.

Some ministers have publicly stated their position while others have not.

The Taoiseach stressed that there would be a free vote on the issue in Fine Gael and TDs and Ministers would be free to campaign against the measure if they wished.

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The minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, said the issue was "complex and emotive" and that she would continue to consult members of her constituency, particularly women.

While Varadkar has said that his Cabinet would take a collective decision on whether to hold a referendum, he has said that ministers would be able to "dissent" from that. Ministers suggested the last option would present difficulties because it would have to be explained why a new option was better than the committee's proposals.

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

Mr Donohoe yesterday said that he supported the recommendations of the Oireachtas committee on abortion, which last month called for sweeping reform of the law.

The eighth amendment of the Irish constitution, introduced in 1983, gives an equal right to life to a pregnant woman and an unborn child. Health minister Simon Harris has suggested that the date could be May 25 if there are no delays in the Dail.

The Fine Gael parliamentary party is to due to debate the abortion referendum and individual views next Monday.

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.

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