Ireland has announced that it will hold a referendum on abortion in 2018.
The Irish government is to ask voters to decide whether the constitution should be changed to allow women to have an abortion.
Currently, women in Northern Ireland are not allowed to have abortions unless under very rare circumstances. The Infant Life (Preservation) Act permits terminations if they will preserve the life of the mother.
The Northern Ireland Executive also states that abortions are only permitted if the mother’s life is at risk or if there is a permanent or serious risk to her mental or physical health.
Under Northern Irish laws, abortions for fatal foetal abnormalities, rape and incest are not permitted.
Women found guilty of having illegal abortions can face up to 14 years in prison.
In 2015, a High Court judge ruled that the current law on abortion in Northern Ireland was incompatible with human rights law.
Speaking about the referendum Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said, “Any amendment to our constitution requires careful consideration by the people.”
“They should be given ample time to consider the issues and to take part in well-informed public debate.”
Speaking to The Independent, Claire McGowran, a volunteer with London-Irish Abortion Rights Campaign said, “Our ideal is that the eight amendment is completely repealed, and not replaced.”
“The very minimum is that it’s not confusing anymore and gives free, safe abortions to women in Ireland regardless of how they become pregnant.”
In June 2017, it was reported that women from Northern Ireland would be able to get NHS abortions in the UK
Over 50 MPs from major political parties agreed with the call for Northern Irish women to get free abortions in England.