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Irish lawmakers approve limited abortions

DUBLIN -- Lawmakers overwhelmingly voted Friday to back Ireland's first bill on abortion, legalizing the practice in exceptional cases when doctors deem the woman's life is at risk from pregnancy, as the predominantly Catholic country took its first legislative step away from an outright ban.

Exhausted legislators applauded the 127-31 vote, as outside the parliament gates abortion-rights activists cheered, watching the result on their smartphones. A grueling debate had locked lawmakers in argument from Wednesday morning to 5 a.m. Thursday and, after a pause for sleep, through midnight.

While the outcome had been expected given Prime Minister Enda Kenny's lopsided parliamentary majority, passage did inflict damage to the 2-year-old coalition government. Catholic conservatives vowed to drive his centrist party from power. -- AP

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