Leo Varadkar has vowed to campaign for the liberalisation of Ireland’s abortion laws.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4 this morning, the Taoiseach says that he believes that Ireland’s abortion laws are “too restrictive and need to be liberalised.”
The Taoiseach is speaking ahead of a special Cabinet meeting in which the details of the referendum will emerge, including the exact wording of the ballot.
Varadkar previously stated in 2014 that he is pro-life, but says that his “views on this matter have evolved.”
“I think sometimes the term pro-life and pro-choice can be misunderstood,” the Fine Gael leader said.
“I think even people who are in favour of abortion in certain circumstances are pro-life. I still believe in life but I understand there are circumstances under which pregnancies can’t continue.
When asked if he was pro-choice, he said: “What do those words even mean? Every single person I know who says they are pro-choice believes in some sort of restriction. They don’t believe in late term abortions for example up to 38 weeks.
“These terms pro-life and pro-choice don’t really comprehend the complexity of this issue which is a very private and personal one and on I think that contains a lot of grey areas.”
The proposed referendum on the Eighth Amendment follows the recommendation from the Citizens’ Assembly in which termination of pregnancy without restriction should be lawful up to 12 weeks gestation age.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment also published a report just before Christmas in which they say that “the termination of pregnancy in Ireland is unfit for purpose and that constitutional reform is necessary.”
The proposed referendum is provisionally scheduled for May or June this year.
The last referendum held in Ireland on the topic of abortion was in 1992, meaning that no one under the current age of 43 would have been able to vote. The subject of the 1992 referendum was concerned with whether or not the risk of suicide in pregnant women could be considered grounds for abortion, which was voted against by 65.5% of voters.