'Ireland has announced it will hold a referendum in May on its strict abortion laws, which force thousands of women a year to travel to the UK to terminate pregnancies.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the vote will ask citizens whether they want to retain the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, which recognises the equal right to life for mothers and foetuses during pregnancy, or repeal it.
If they choose the latter, they can replace it with an enabling provision that gives responsibility for legislating on abortion laws to the Irish parliament.
Mr Varadkar said Health Minister Simon Harris would prepare draft legislation proposing laws allowing for unrestricted abortions up to 12 weeks that would be published prior to the referendum.
Those proposed law changes would only be tabled on the floor of the Dail for a vote in the event of the referendum backing repeal of the Eighth Amendment.
The Eighth Amendment, added to the constitution in 1983 following a referendum, has prohibited abortion in Ireland in all but a small number of cases when a woman's life is in danger.'
Read more: Ireland to hold historic referendum vote on abortion laws
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