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First Irish Abortion Bill Signed Into Law
Ireland's President Michael D. Higgins has signed the country's first bill on abortion into law, legalizing the practice in exceptional cases where doctors deem a woman's life at risk. The law permits abortions to alleviate life-threatening conditions, including a woman's own threat to commit suicide if refused a termination.
Higgins surprised some analysts Tuesday by signing the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill instead of referring it to Ireland's Supreme Court to determine its constitutionality.
The new law amends the constitution's ban on abortion, so anti-abortion activists are likely to pursue a Supreme Court challenge.
Up until now, Ireland's only legislation on abortion was a handed-down British law from 1867, outlawing the practice with a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The new maximum sentence is 14 years.
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