Ireland’s Taoiseach has urged the country to trust women as he launched a campaign to overturn some of the strictest abortion laws in Europe.
Ireland has a near-ban on terminations, and nine women travel abroad every day to countries where abortion is legal to end their pregnancies.
The May 25 referendum is the latest in a series of liberalisation measures which saw divorce and same-sex marriage legalised in 1996 and 2015.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged people to back the Yes vote (Niall Carson/PA)
‘I am calling for a Yes vote because I trust women,’ Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said.
He said change represented a measure of compassion, and an end to the chill factor facing those who want the procedure.
Mr Varadkar also rubbished suggestions reform would see the number of abortions rocket, and claimed those on that side of the argument thought very little of women.
Abortion is only available when a mother’s life is at risk, but not in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape, or incest.
Parts of Ireland are becoming increasingly secular but the Catholic church is among those campaigning for a No vote, arguing an unborn child’s life is sacrosanct.
The leadership of the largest party in Ireland’s coalition Government, Mr Varadkar’s Fine Gael, is pressing for Yes.
The ballot will be on whether to retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, which means the life of the woman and her unborn child are seen as equal.
Draft legislation proposes unrestricted abortion access be made available to women who are up to 12 weeks pregnant.
Fine Gael officially launched their Yes campaign at a theatre in Dublin on Saturday.