Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that he believes Ireland's abortion laws are "too restrictive".
Minister Varadkar was responding to a Private Members motion, tabled by the Independent TD Clare Daly, seeking to remove the current clause in the Constitution equating the lives of a mother and her unborn child.
Moving the bill this evening, Deputy Daly said she felt "a little bit mad and a little bit sad", adding that it is regrettable that those supporting the motion that they "have to do this".
She said it was regrettable that the Government could not include the provision for repealing the 8th Amendment as part of the referenda planned for next year, announced today.
Ms Daly asked the Government to reconsider that decision.
Speaking during Private Members time tonight, she called for a repeal of the 8th amendment to the Constitution.
"It's an issue which affected ten women today, ten women yesterday, and ten women tomorrow who are forced to take journey out of these shores for a routine medical treatment in other countries", she said.
She said if society was serious it would "support people instead of passing judgement by respecting women and their choices".
Minister Varadkar said the Government would not be supporting the proposed amendment.
However, he said it is his considered view as a medical doctor and as Minister for Health, that the 8th Amendment, which bans abortion, is too restrictive.
He said that while it protects the right to life of the mother, it has no regard for her long term health, saying it forces couples to bring to term a child that has no chance of survival for long outside the womb.
He said it forces them "against their own judgement, to explain for weeks and months to all enquirers that their baby is dead."
He said he does not believe anything is served by requiring women or couples to continue with such pregnancies, should they not wish to do so, when there is no chance of the baby surviving.
The Minister said it was not his right to impose his views on others; but with no electoral mandate, he proposed a considered and careful debate.
Responding to Minister Varadkar’s remarks tonight, Dr Ruth Cullen of the Pro Life Campaign said there is nothing restrictive about the current law.
“Minister Varadkar is part of a Government that introduced abortion up to birth based on a threat of suicide.
“He knows there is not a shred of medical evidence to back it up and that if anything the evidence points to the adverse mental health consequences of abortion for women in these situations,” Ms Cullen said.
“There is nothing in the new legislation to prevent two psychiatrists who view abortion as harmless from signing off on abortions, secure in the knowledge that they don’t have to meet any evidence-based test,” she added.