Proposal to allow abortion up to 12 weeks may be ‘a step too far’ - Taoiseach

Many politicians concerned proposal might go too far for majority of people, says Varadkar

The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has raised concern that the proposal to make abortion on request legal up to 12 weeks may be "a step too far" for the majority of the public.

Many politicians are concerned that the proposal might go too far for a majority of people, Mr Varadkar said, speaking after the first Cabinet meeting of the new year which was dominated by a two-hour discussion on the proposed referendum.

“I think it’s fair to say that for a lot of people, not just in the cabinet, for a lot of people in the country, the proposal to allow for the termination of pregnancies up to 12 weeks went further than many people may have anticipated. Certainly, it went further than I would have anticipated a year or two ago,” Mr Varadkar told journalists at Government Buildings.

"But also having read the committee report I understand the logic behind that, why they came to that decision, particularly given the widespread availability now of the abortion pill and the fact that people are getting that over the internet and are using it without medical supervision all over Ireland every day.


“But I think people will want to think about that,” the Taoiseach said.

“There is a concern understandably among many politicians that perhaps for the majority of the public that proposal might go one step too far. But then again, perhaps not. That’s the debate we’re going to have over the next few months.”

Mr Varadkar declined to give his own position on the abortion question, but said he would wait until the Government had decided what the question would be before making his views public.

He also declined to say whether the proposed 12-week limit – recommended by the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment whose report the cabinet discussed – might be reduced in future legislation.

He said he would campaign according to his views once he had made them known, and that it remained the Government’s intention to hold a referendum on abortion in the summer.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times