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Ireland to hold abortion vote before papal visit

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (pictured below) announced the vote on changing the Republic's Constitution would be held in May or June 2018, before the pope stages an international event celebrating marriage and family life.

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The ballot will ask whether the Eighth Amendment - which states a mother and her unborn baby have an equal right to life - should be retained.

The amendment has long been highly contentious in Ireland, with pro-life campaigners wanting it preserved and pro-choice supporters saying it should be abolished.

Wikimedia Commons

The wording of the referendum question will be determined after a parliamentary committee issues its findings of a report conducted by an assembly of Irish citizens on the issue.

The referendum on abortion is one of several votes announced by the Irish leader on the country's constitutional framework.

In June 2019, citizens will be asked whether Irish people living abroad should be allowed to vote in presidential elections. In the same month, ballots will also be held on divorce laws and a proposal to allow 16 and 17 year olds the right to vote.

Ireland - which retains a strong Catholic influence - was chosen by Pope Francis to stage the 2018 World Meeting of Families, a gathering held once every three years.

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