Dáil committee votes for abortion law change in Ireland

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The cross-party committee was set up to assess abortion law in Ireland

A parliamentary committee in the Republic of Ireland has voted to recommend changes to abortion law.

The committee was set up to consider a report by the Citizens' Assembly on abortion law in Ireland.

The cross-party group is in favour of repealing the 8th amendment to the Constitution of Ireland.

The 8th amendment acknowledges "the right to life of the unborn and with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother".

Committee members voted 14-6 to recommend to the Oireachtas (parliament) to repeal the 8th amendment, and voted 12-5 to recommend to allow terminations without restrictions up to 12 weeks.

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The Republic of Ireland has a near total ban on abortion

The constitutional article reads: "The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right."

The committee also voted on numerous scenarios which would provide guidance on parameters for abortion legislation.

This included a vote which supported the decriminalisation of women who seek to procure an abortion, when a termination is carried out in a hospital or licensed clinic.

The committee will publish its final report on December 20.

Speaking in the Dáil Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he intends to hold a referendum on the issue next May.

Abortion in the Republic of Ireland

The Republic of Ireland has a near total ban on abortion.

In 2013, abortion was legislated for under certain conditions - when doctors deem that a woman life's is at risk due to medical complications, or if she is at risk of suicide.

The law does not allow for terminations in cases of rape or incest, or when there is a fatal foetal abnormality.

The law was introduced in the wake of the case of Savita Halappanavar who died in a Galway hospital in 2012 after she was refused an abortion.

In what was known as the X Case of 1992, a 14-year-old rape victim was prevented from travelling to England to terminate her pregnancy by the High Court.

This ruling was overturned by the Irish Supreme Court and a referendum approved a further update to the constitution, stating that the eighth amendment did not restrict the freedom to travel to another state.