Prime Minister Leo Varadkar from Ireland has announced that a referendum on abortion laws will be held at the end of May.
Citizens would be asked whether they would like to retain the Eighth Amendment of the constitution, under which the life of a mother and her unborn child are equal.
The Eighth Amendment was signed into Irish law in October 1983, following a referendum the previous month.
If citizens vote to reject the Eighth Amendment, responsibility for legislating on abortion laws will pass to the Irish parliament, Mr Varadkar said.
The current law does not allow for terminations in cases of rape or incest, or when there is a foetal abnormality.
The announcement came after a special meeting of the Irish cabinet on Monday evening.
Two recent polls have shown a significant move in public opinion since the mid-1980s, when the Roman Catholic Church held sway over public discourse.
A clear majority of all voters – 56% – said they would vote in favour of a constitutional change, with 29% not in favour, and 15% saying they did not know or offering no opinion, according to an Irish Times poll published last week.
Mr Varadkar has said he will campaign to liberalise Ireland’s abortion laws, saying they “are too restrictive and need to be liberalised.”
It is a view shared by Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin and Sinn Fein leader-elect Mary Lou McDonald, who support a parliamentary committee’s recommendations for unrestricted access to abortion for 12 weeks.
Source: Sky News