The move comes seven weeks after the death of Savita Halappanavar.

The four Catholic Archbishops of Ireland, including Cardinal Sean Brady, have criticised the decision.

Abortion is currently illegal in the Republic except where there is a real and substantial risk to a mother's life, as distinct from her health.

However, up until now the government has not enacted legislation to give certainty to doctors as to when terminations can be carried out and under what circumstances.

The Irish government said the new legislative framework will require a combination of legislation and regulations in cases where the life of a woman is at risk.

The move follows the report of an expert group set up to advise on how to bring legal clarity to the issue.

The new package of measures will comply with the government's obligations under the European Convention of Human Rights.

In a statement, the Republic of Ireland's health minister said he was "very conscious of the sensitivities" around the issue.

"I know that most people have personal views on this matter. However, the government is committed to ensuring that the safety of pregnant women in Ireland is maintained and strengthened," said minister James Reilly.