Irish premier launches bid to overturn abortion restrictions

April 21, 2018
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, center, with Minister for Health Simon Harris, center left, and campaign co-ordinator minister Josepha Madigan, third right, pose with banners during an event to support a yes vote in the upcoming referendum on the repeal of the 8th Amendment, in Dublin, Saturday April 21, 2018. Ireland will vote on May 25 on whether to lift a constitutional ban on most abortions. (Tom Honan/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Ireland’s premier has urged his country to show compassion as he launched a campaign to overturn some of Europe’s strictest abortion rules.

Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said Saturday that Ireland’s May 25 referendum on whether to lift a constitutional ban on most abortions is an opportunity to “put compassion at the center of our laws.” He said the current restrictions do not prevent abortions, but “just lets us sweep it under the carpet.”

Abortion in largely Catholic Ireland is legal only in rare cases when a woman’s life is in danger. Thousands of Irish women travel each year to get abortions in neighboring Britain.

Voters will be asked whether they want to retain or repeal the constitutional ban. If it’s repealed, parliament would be responsible for creating new abortion laws.

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