Cabinet gets free vote on both abortion bills
Stephen O’Brien, Political Editor
January 14 2018, The Sunday Times
Fine Gael cabinet ministers will have a free vote on the “repeal the eighth” referendum bill in March, and also on a bill next autumn to permit abortion on request up to 12 weeks if the referendum is passed.
Senior government sources say ministers will have complied with the principle of collective cabinet responsibility if they instruct Simon Harris, the health minister, to draft a bill and prepare a referendum to repeal article 40.3.3. of the constitution, which confers an equal right to life on “the mother” and “the unborn”. Individual ministers would then be free to vote against that legislation in the Dail.