Ireland is one step closer to relaxing its draconian anti-abortion laws, scheduling a referendum to take place in May.
Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced during a news conference on Monday that he personally intends to campaign on behalf of the reform, which would repeal the amendment of the Irish Constitution that gives equal weight to the life of a mother and her unborn child.
According to the New York Times, Varadker said that more than 2,000 Irish women and girls were inciting their own abortions with pills each year without the supervision of a doctor. Easing abortion restrictions, he said, would inevitably save lives.
“We already have abortion—unsafe, unregulated, unlawful. We cannot continue to export our problem and import our solution,” he said. “I know this will be a difficult decision for the Irish people to make. For most of us, it is not a black-and-white issue—it is very grey.”
As it stands, Ireland is one of just 50 countries that will allow women to terminate pregnancies only when her life is at risk, meaning incest and rape are not sufficient grounds to obtain an abortion. While the exact language of the referendum has not been determined, the general idea would be to repeal the eighth amendment, for which popular support has been growing for years.
Though the amendment has been in place since 1983, it began to face severe pushback in 2012, when a woman named Savita Halappanavar died in a Galway hospital after she was refused an abortion while having a miscarriage.