The wording of Ireland’s abortion referendum has been finalised, giving the go-ahead for voters to have their say on the issue.
The Irish government formally approved the referendum bill at a cabinet meeting in Dublin on Thursday.
It comes after Ireland’s Supreme Court ruled that state protections for unborn babies do not extend beyond the right to life.
The decision cleared the way for the referendum in a country where terminations are only allowed when the life of the mother is at risk.
The maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison.
Campaigners are seeking to allow for unrestricted abortion up to 12 weeks into pregnancy.
Voters will be asked whether they want to remove the Eighth Amendment, which gives equal right to life to the mother and the unborn child, and replace it with wording that would allow politicians to set Ireland’s abortion laws in the future.
The wording will be: “Provision may be made by law for the regulation of termination of pregnancies.”
The Irish government plans to hold the referendum at the end of May.
It will be the first opportunity in 35 years for voters to potentially change some of the world’s strictest laws on abortion.
Ireland Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the referendum was about asking citizens to allow women to make major decisions for themselves.
“It’s about trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what’s right for them and their families,” Mr Varadkar said.
“And it’s about trusting our doctors to decide when continuing with a pregnancy is a risk to the life or health of a woman.”
He added: “Above all it’s about trusting Irish people to consider this matter in depth, with compassion and empathy, as I know they will.”
Ireland’s Health Minister Simon Harris said it was “very appropriate and fitting” that the wording was approved on International Women’s Day.
On Friday the Irish government will formally establish a referendum commission, chaired by Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, which will provide unbiased information to the public about the issue.