The wording of the referendum and the amendment has come under scrutiny since the beginning of the campaign and now the Cabinet has signed off on a bill to hold a referendum on the 8th amendment.
Ministers approved the bill, which outlines what question will be put to the people of Ireland. According to Newstalk, Health Minister Simon Harris outlined what question people will be asked: "'To repeal Article 40.3.3 in its entirety, and replace it with the wording that we've already published - the 13 words that would go into the Constitution that would make it clear that provision may be made in law for the regulation of termination of pregnancy". In the event of a yes vote, those words that would replace the 8th amendment in the constitution are: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies.”
The referendum bill now needs to be approved by the Dáil and Seanad before a date is fixed for the referendum. It is likely the Dáil will sit on Friday to debate it, and that is when we will get a policy paper from Government outlining what laws they want to bring in if the 8th amendment is repealed.
According to reports, the Government is confident their timeline of having a referendum in late May is still on track. If passed it is expected that women can have free access abortion up to 12 weeks. After that period, terminations will 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 to think it over before having the termination carried out.
A referendum commission will be set up on Friday and will be chaired by High Court Judge Isobel Kennedy. Some TDs believe there will be 48 hours of debate on the issue needed before it can pass.