Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar says the country will vote in late May on whether to lift a constitutional ban on most abortions.

The government met Monday evening to agree on details of a referendum on the eighth amendment to Ireland's constitution.

Varadkar says voters will be asked whether they want to retain the amendment, or repeal it and hand responsibility for legislating on abortion to parliament.

The 1983 amendment commits authorities to defend equally the right to life of a mother and an unborn child, giving this largely Roman Catholic nation the strictest abortion ban in Europe. Abortion is legal only in rare cases when a woman's life is in danger.

Varadkar, who leads the center-right Fine Gael party, has said he will campaign to ease the abortion ban.