Ireland has announced the date for its highly anticipated public referendum on abortion.
May 25, 2018, will be the day when the people of Ireland vote on whether to make Ireland's abortion laws - which are currently some of the most restrictive in the world - more liberal.
Currently, the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution of Ireland, ratified in 1983, gives mothers and unborn equal rights to life. On May 25, the Irish public will have the chance to vote to allow the Irish Parliament (Dáil Éireann) to put forth new abortion legislation.
While abortion is supposed to be allowed in Ireland if the life of the mother is at risk, it is illegal apart from this, even in the cases of rape, incest, or a fatal fetal abnormality. Despite this, it is estimated that as many as 12 Irish women a day travel abroad for an abortion or illegally purchase abortion pills.
May 25 will mark the first time the Irish people will have voiced their opinions on the issue of abortion since 1983. There were unsuccessful referendums in 1992 and in 2002 which would have overturned this decision and removed the risk of suicide as a ground for an abortion, with regard to the famous "X Case", when a 13-year-old girl was denied abortion after she was raped.
In January, Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar, who is a qualified doctor, announced if the Irish public votes yes to repeal the 8th Amendment the government could then draft legislation that would allow for unrestricted abortions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.
A public opinion poll released by the Irish Times/MRBI at the start of 2018 showed that 59% of those polled were in favor of a change to the constitution which would introduce abortion in Ireland during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. While 15% were undecided or gave no response and 29% would vote against.
Just as they did in advance of Ireland's Marriage Equality Referendum, campaigners are urging the some 40,000 Irish living abroad to return home for this landmark vote, since Ireland does not allow absentee voting.
Will you be voting in Ireland's abortion referendum? Tell us in the comment section.