Work to be done to convince people to vote for abortion change - Regina Doherty

Regina Doherty, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

A senior government minister has said there is a "job of work to be done" if people are to be persuaded to back a referendum on changing abortion law.

As things stand, Regina Doherty, Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection, said she believed proposals to replace the Eighth Amendment would not pass.

She said: "Standing right now, if nobody does anything, I don't think this referendum will pass."

The Fine Gael TD was speaking on RTE's The Week In Politics programme.

"We need to sell, as advocates of people who want to see the Constitution changed and the 12-week imposed, that needs to be sold to people and the reasons why that 12-weeks figure was come at," she added.

"That needs to be explained clearly to people with reasons and evidence, so there is a job of work to be done."

Terminations are currently only allowed in the Irish Republic when the life of the mother is at risk, including from suicide, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.

Campaigners are seeking to liberalise the regime to allow for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.

The government has formally agreed to hold a referendum on the Eighth Amendment and it is expected in May.

The move comes after the Committee on the Eighth Amendment published its report recommending repeal of Article 40.3.3, which recognises the equal right to life of the mother and the unborn child.

The report stated that Constitutional provision prohibiting the termination of pregnancy in Ireland was unfit for purpose and in need of reform.

- PA

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