Leo Varadkar’s shifting view on abortion will be key to campaign

‘I consider myself to be pro-life in that I accept that the unborn child is a human life with rights,’ Taoiseach told Dáil in 2014, but also said Eighth Amendment was ‘too restrictive’

 Taoiseach Leo Varadkar:  indicated before Christmas in a briefing with journalists that his views on abortion had evolved. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar: indicated before Christmas in a briefing with journalists that his views on abortion had evolved. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar on Wednesday again declined to give his views on the report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Eighth Amendment, which has recommended legislating for abortion on request up to 12 weeks. However, several Fine Gael sources, including some who have discussed the issue with the Taoiseach, expect that he will back the proposals, joining the seven cabinet ministers who have so far expressed their support.

Mr Varadkar is already on record as believing that Ireland’s abortion laws, underpinned by the Eighth Amendment, are too restrictive. However, he has avoided giving his views on the recommendations of the committee, saying instead that he would read the report, listen to the Fine Gael parliamentary party’s views and then make his position known. But those with a good claim to know the Taoiseach’s mind on the subject say they would be astonished if he did not back the Committee’s report, including the recommendation for abortion on request up to 12 weeks.

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