"It's about trusting women to decide, in the early weeks of their pregnancy, what's right for them and their families", said the taoiseach, Leo Varadkar.
Currently, terminations are allowed only when the life of the mother is at risk, and the maximum penalty for accessing an illegal abortion is 14 years in prison. Mr Harris announced that he has asked the Chief Medical Officer to look into the feasibility, and in particular the cost, of a State-run contraception service. "Retaining the Eighth Amendment will not prevent it from happening".
It is generally in line with the recommendations of the all-party Oireachtas committee which proposed allowing terminations without restriction up to 12 weeks, although the document will use different wording.
"Contrary to some assertions, such provision would not make Ireland an outlier internationally", Mr Harris said.
Providing access to medical abortion on request in early pregnancy, and in later pregnancy in additional circumstances, is the minimum needed to respect and fulfil women's human rights.
"And it's about trusting our doctors to decide when continuing with a pregnancy is a risk to the life or health of a woman.Above all it's about trusting Irish people to consider this matter in depth, with compassion and empathy, as I know they will".
He will describe the regime he would aim to bring in in the event of a repeal vote.
Browns trade Danny Shelton, 2018 pick to Patriots for 2019 conditional pick
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"Anyone who argues that the courts have been written out of the scenario, that this is some kind of carte blanche for untrustworthy politicians, is wilfully misleading public opinion", the leader said.
The decision comes just days after Ireland's Supreme Court ruled that the unborn child has no constitutional rights other than the right to life, a decision pro-lifers say highlights the importance of defeating the referendum.
Labour's Joan Burton said she hoped the debate would be respectful and produce a good outcome for the people of Ireland.
A Referendum Commission was formally established by Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy on Friday.
Speaking outside Leinster House, Harris said it was appropriate that this decision was taken on International Women's Day, and that he would campaign enthusiastically in favour of repealing the eighth amendment.
The debate on the controversial issue is due to resume after the St Patrick's Day week-long break on March 20.