Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he fears the consequences if there is a No majority in the referendum on the Eighth Amendment on 25 May.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, he said: "If there is a No vote on Friday, it is only time before someone haemorrhages or bleeds to death."

He said this vote is a "once in a generation decision" and it defines how we are going to treat women in crisis for the next generation.

"If the referendum does not pass, there can be no change. So in those situations where a girl is under age, 14, 15-year-olds and pregnant, where a woman is a victim of rape, where a woman has conceived because of incest, perhaps raped by a family member, where there is a real threat to her health, there is nothing we can do."

He said Friday 25 May is the first time in 35 years that the public has a chance to have its say on abortion. 

Mr Varadkar said we know abortion is a reality and we should accept it and regulate it.

"Nine women travel every day ... and increasingly women are using abortion pills, which is not safe."

"We should be able to deal with crises in a compassionate way." 

He appealed to voters to give women a choice.

"I hope the majority of people in the country will take that this really is a personal and private matter. That voting 'Yes' does not necessarily mean you are endorsing abortion, that you think it is a good thing.

"I doubt anyone actually thinks it's a good thing. But you are recognising that everyone has the right to their own individual sense of morality."

He said he worked as a GP for a number of years and in obstetrics and he has dealt with crisis pregnancies. 

"My experience is that the person who is coming before you really had their reasons. I think the patient you are dealing with is the patient in front of you and that is the woman but obviously at a later stage beyond viability or when the pregnancy is wanted, you treat it in that scenario as two patients."

Mr Varadkar said there are grey areas in the Constitution related to this issue, which the Government is trying to change. 

He said, like a lot of people, his views have changed over time. He thinks most people have changed their views and there is nothing wrong with that.

"Life experience teaches you that."

He also clarified that the proposal of allowing abortions up to 12 weeks' is not "unrestricted".

"It won't be unrestricted and it won't be 'on demand'," he said.

Mr Varadkar explained what will happen once a pregnant woman who is considering an abortion visits a doctor. 

"There will be a 72-hour pause, or waiting period, for reflection, which does not exist ... in the UK, and the doctor will also have to confirm the pregnancy is less than ten weeks' gestation. So there is quite a number of restrictions planned."

He said abortions would only be carried out at licencing institutions or hospitals and said there is no plan to open abortion clinics. 

"What we want to do is minimise the number of surgical terminations and the fact we have the system now where people go to England means they are sometimes having terrminations at a later stage."

Mr Varadkar said the medical abortion pill could be used instead at an earlier stage to avoid terminations. He said in the draft proposal there is nothing about disability and ending a pregnancy.  

"Once you get past the 12-week pregnancy, the only grounds on which an abortion can happen is a threat to the life of the mother or serious risk to her health."

He said he does not believe women would fake a mental illness to be allowed have an abortion.

"Women who want to end their pregnancy already do it by going to Britain," he said.


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With a week to go to polling day, both sides of the campaign are calling on the public to cast their vote next Friday. Both sides also accused the other of "scaremongering".

Yes and No campaigners were in agreement on one thing this morning, that was the need for men to engage in the campaign and to vote in the referendum.

Meanwhile, Solidarity TD Ruth Coppinger accused the No side of scaremongering, which she has described as "a thinly-veiled misogyny".

At a press conference, which sought to highlight the reality of abortion for women in the workplace, Ms Coppinger said women have been made feel "invisible or demonised" by the 'No' side.

Elsewhere, Renua, which is the only political party as a whole campaigning for a No vote, has said the Minister for Health is not listening to front line workers in the health service.

Renua leader John Leahy said if frontline workers were not at ease with the issue of abortion, which he said was the case for a growing number of them, then political parties needed to sit up and listen.

Additional reporting: Ailbhe Conneely