World

Irish lawmakers pass abortion bill

July 10, 2013: Anti-abortion campaigners wait outside the Irish Parliament at Leinster House, Dublin ahead of a parliamentary vote on abortion. Irish politicians will vote Wednesday to pass divisive laws to legislate for the first time for abortion in limited circumstances.

July 10, 2013: Anti-abortion campaigners wait outside the Irish Parliament at Leinster House, Dublin ahead of a parliamentary vote on abortion. Irish politicians will vote Wednesday to pass divisive laws to legislate for the first time for abortion in limited circumstances.  (AP)

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.