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Former Irish Prime Minister urge voters to protect unborn's right to life

(Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne)Demonstrators take part in a protest to urge the Irish Government to repeal the 8th amendment to the constitution, which enforces strict limitations to a woman's right to an abortion, in Dublin, Ireland September 24, 2016.

Former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton has urged voters to reject the repeal of the Eighth Amendment, which enshrines the equal right to life on the unborn child and the mother.

Ireland is expected to vote on a referendum in May to determine whether to retain or repeal the Eighth Amendment, which effectively prohibits abortion in all cases.

The referendum will ask voters if they are in favor of abortions without restriction up to 12 weeks into pregnancy, and afterward when there is a risk to the mother.

Bruton, who served as prime minister from 1994 to 1997, has spoken strongly against the repeal and said that Ireland should be "proud" of having protection for the unborn in its constitution.

The former prime minister has contended that babies in the womb can already "feel and are already developing their strength."

"To arbitrarily say that, after whatever number of weeks, it's okay to suppress that life is just not in accordance with the values of charity towards the weak in our communities that have exemplified the Irish over the last many centuries," Bruton said, as reported by Irish Times.

"It's true that we are probably one of the few countries in the world that has, in our constitution, an express recognition of the right to life of the unborn child, but that's something we should be proud of," he added.

Bruton had previously led the Fine Gael party which is now pushing for liberalization of the country's abortion laws.

He confirmed that he will not be voting for the repeal, but declined to offer a prediction of how the referendum will go.

The former prime minister further cautioned that people will not stop buying abortion pills online if abortion is legalized.

While pro-abortion advocates are claiming that legalizing abortion could reduce the number of women ordering abortion pills over the internet, Bruton does not believe it will make a difference.

"People ordering those pills over the internet, that's a problem in Britain as well and hasn't been cured by having fairly liberal abortion law, so I think that remains a problem," he said.

Meanwhile, Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) has said that abortion drugs will not be readily available for several months in the event that the amendment is repealed and abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy become legal.

The organization noted that doctors will be unable to provide the pills except in rare circumstances because they will have no license.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar announced that any post-referendum abortion law will not be debated until the autumn, which means that abortion pills are unlikely to be available until at least summer 2019.

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