Cabinet meets to sign off on 8th Amendment bill today

The Cabinet will meet this morning to sign off on the bill to hold a referendum on the 8th Amendment.

It will also get legal advice from the Attorney General on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on the rights of the unborn.

In a unanimous decision, the seven-judge court ruled that the unborn has no rights under the Constitution other than the right to life as contained in the 8th Amendment.

The Attorney General will brief the cabinet this morning but it' is understood he has no concerns about yesterday's Supreme Court decision that would derail the Government's plans to move towards a referendum on abortion.

Ministers will be asked to sign off on the Referendum Bill, which outlines what question will be asked to people in a vote.

That's likely to be along the lines of: 'To support removing Article 40.3.3 from the Constitution and allowing the Oireachtas to provide for terminations of pregnancy under law'.

Once that's signed off on it needs to be approved by the Dáil and Seanad before a referendum date is set.

It is likely the Dáil will sit tomorrow to debate it, resulting in a policy paper from the Government outlining what laws will be added if the 8th Amendment is repealed and that will include allowing abortion without restriction for up to 12 weeks.

After that period, terminations would be allowed in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, or where there is a risk to the life, health or mental health of the mother. The mother will have to be assessed by two doctors in these cases

The Government is also considering a "cooling-off" period, where a woman will have to wait two or three days after seeking an abortion before having the termination carried out.

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