DUBLIN – Lawmakers have overwhelmingly voted to back Ireland's first bill on abortion, legalizing the practice in exceptional cases where doctors deem the woman's life at risk from her pregnancy.
Exhausted legislators applauded Friday's 127-31 vote. It capped a marathon debate that locked lawmakers in argument until 5 a.m. Thursday and, after a pause for sleep, through midnight Friday.
While the outcome was expected given Prime Minister Enda Kenny's lopsided parliamentary majority, the debate revealed deep-seated fears that Ireland's first legislative step on abortion could put the predominantly Catholic country on a slippery slope to granting wider abortion rights in years to come.
Divisions ran deepest on the bill's rule permitting an abortion for a suicidal woman if a three-doctor panel agrees she would try to kill herself if denied a termination.