Cabinet to be briefed on timeline for Abortion referendum

The Heath Minister will brief the cabinet this morning on timelines needed to have an abortion referendum in the middle of next year.

Simon Harris will update his colleagues on the tight turnaround needed.

The Minister will stress this morning that an abortion referendum in May or June can be done, but there is not much wiggle room to get it through.

The cabinet meets for the final time this year later, and the Taoiseach has suggested they will need to adopt a united view on abortion.

Leo Varadkar said they will have a debate but there will still be collective Cabinet responsibility for any recommendation.

"What I would anticipate is Cabinet acting collectively as it always does so if we put a procedure or a proposition to the Dáil and Seanad that will be a collective decision of the Cabinet," the Taoiseach said.

"That is not to say that people couldn't dissent from that," he added.

To have a May vote, a Referendum Bill would have to be published in late January, with the Dáil not returning until January 16.

Politicians will then have to debate the contents of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth amendments report which will be presented tomorrow.

Lots of the background work on the bill and draft legislation has been done by the Department of Health

Those draft laws are in line with what the Oireachtas committee will recommend: that abortion be made legal without restriction for up to 12 weeks into the pregnancy and a GP-led termination service would be introduced

While sources say a May referendum is doable, they admit it is a tight timeframe to get it done.


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