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abortion laws

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Yesterday, Ireland voted by 66.4 percent to 33.6 percent to abolish the eighth amendment from our Constitution.

The turnout for this referendum exceeded that of the marriage referendum in 2015. Over 2,159,655 people came out and voted, with 1,429,981 people voting in favour of repealing the eighth amendment.

The results have been welcomed by the public with hundreds gathering in Dublin Castle to hear the official results. The crowd erupted when it was revealed that the Yes side had succeeded. During the moving moment, the crowd started chanting ‘Yes We Did’.

Speaking of the landslide victory, Leo Varadkar said: “Today is a historic day for Ireland. We’re saying as a nation that we trust women and that we believe women should be respected in making the decisions they make.”

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, who has been hailed a hero for his support of the Yes side shared: “Yesterday our country said to women, we stand with you. We said to women -take our hand, not the boat. It has been incredible to stand shoulder to shoulder with you as we work to create a country which treats women with compassion. I will always be in your corner."

Following the Yes side’s victory, Simon Harris revealed that the new legal framework to replace the Eighth Amendment will be drafted during the summer.

He hopes that it will be in place by the end of the year.

The expected legislation will make abortion available for women who are no more than 12 weeks pregnant. Women won't have to give a reason for their decision and will need a GP to clarify that they are not passed the twelfth week of pregnancy. 

Termination will be allowed past 12 weeks if:

  • The woman's health is in danger or her life is at risk
  • The foetus has not reached viability, and
  • It is appropriate to carry out the termination of pregnancy in order to avert that risk
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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he will be campaigning for more liberal abortion laws, according to RTE.

The Taoiseach will be pushing for choice in the forthcoming referendum on the repeal of the Eighth Amendment.

The Taoiseach is expected ton declare his official stance in a Cabinet meeting this month. 

Speaking in an interview with the BBC, Mr Varadkar said:

'We will have that referendum, hopefully in the summer and we should be in a position to make a decision on that in Government next week.'

He was also asked if he would campaign for the law to be changed, to which he replied:

'I'll be campaigning for them to be changed and to be liberalised, yes.' 

Mr Varadkar was also asked if his previously declared 'pro-life' stance had changed. 

To this, the Taoiseach said that his views on the matter had evolved and changed. 

'I still believe in life but I understand that there are circumstances under which pregnancies can't continue,' he said. 

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Amnesty International have welcomed the clarification as the Director of Public Prosecutions in the North has confirmed that medical staff in Northern Ireland who refer women for abortions in other parts of the UK will not face criminal prosecution.

The move has been hailed as a significant breakthrough by those who oppose the laws surrounding the procedure.

It's thought that the uncertainty around the topic left doctors feeling as though they were unable to refer their patients over fears of possible prosecution.

Grainne Teggart from Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said: "The threat of prosecution has long loomed over medical professionals in Northern Ireland, who have previously felt unable to refer women to other parts of the UK for abortion services for fear of criminal prosecution. This has acted as a significant barrier for women seeking to access abortion."

"The Public Prosecution Service has now stated clearly they can see no risk of criminal prosecution in these circumstances. This is hugely important and should relieve the profession of this chilling threat. This is a significant breakthrough in the fight for abortion rights here."

Northern Ireland remains the only country in the United Kingdom where a ban on terminations remains in place.

As a result, hundreds of women of forced to travel every year in order to avail of the procedure.

The UK government recently committed to funding for women from Northern Ireland to access free abortions in England.

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Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has urged Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, to liberalise Ireland's restrictive abortion laws.

The leaders met in Montreal yesterday to discuss a range of issues including human rights, and the controversial Eight Amendment.

“On the issue of reproductive rights, I shared our perspective that such rights are integral to women’s rights and they are human rights and I asked him to look at it as a fundamental human right and we had a good discussion,” he said. 

Mr Trudeau's advice comes after the hashtag #JustinformLeo went viral this weekend, as Irish women took to Twitter to ask the Canadian leader to discuss the issue of Ireland's abortion ban during the visit.

Following a successful meeting, the two leaders marched in the Montreal Pride parade yesterday afternoon.

Leo will now travel to Toronto where he is due to discuss growing trade, tourism, and investment between Ireland and Canada.

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Catherine Noone, a pro-choice Fine Gael senator, has been elected as the chairperson of the Oireachtas abortion committee.

Originally in was thought that Jerry Buttimer would take the position, however it has now emerged that Noone was unopposed in her candidacy.

Speaking about her new role, the senator said: “It’s a great honour and privilege to have been elected chair of the committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution. I look forward to working with all of my colleagues from across the political spectrum to ensure the Committee fulfils its remit.”

The 21-person committee had been tasked with drafting the proposed changes to Ireland's abortion laws following recommendations made by the Citizen's Assembly.

Earlier this year, the assembly put forward recommendations that the Oireachtas should allow abortion without restriction in Ireland.

Noone's appointment comes after the news that Leo Varadkar has committed to a referendum on the issue in 2018.

The committee is not expected to hold public sessions until September, hever they will continue to proceed and are due to meet again in two weeks time, when the Citizen's Assembly report has been been received.

The committee must deliver it's conclusions to both Houses of Oireachtas within three months of its first public meeting.  

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