The Government has signed off on the referendum bill to allow a vote on the 8th Amendment.
There will be no late or full-term terminations under new abortion laws proposed by the government, Simon Harris has promised.
The date has not been announced, nor has the wording for the referendum itself.
Ministers formally approved the referendum bill at a Cabinet meeting at Government Buildings in Dublin.
The cabinet decision to approve the referendum bill was unanimous. Today should also be a day where we talk about the horror of gendercide and the millions of missing girls who were aborted for no other reason than due to their gender.
The move comes after a Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday that protections for the unborn child offered under the state's constitution do not extend beyond the right to life.
It will say there should be abortion without specific indication for up to 12 weeks - meaning abortion will be allowed for any reason within the first trimester.
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The High Court ruled that the unborn enjoyed rights beyond the right to life set out in the eighth amendment that voters are due to be asked if they wish to repeal in the proposed referendum.
A change to the law would be a monumental step for Ireland, where since 1983 it has been estimated that 170,000 women have left the country to terminate pregnancies.
The Taoiseach added: 'Above all it's about trusting Irish people to consider this matter in depth, with compassion and empathy, as I know they will'.
'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.
The bishops said in a statement: "We believe that the deletion or amendment of this article can have no other effect than to expose unborn children to greater risk and that it would not bring about any benefit for the life or health of women in Ireland".