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Jul 2, 2013 1:45 PM by Kate Richards

Irish abortion bill passes 1st test

DUBLIN (AP) - Irish lawmakers have strongly backed a proposed law that would end decades of confusion over the right of women to receive abortions in life-threatening cases.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny easily prevailed as he sought all-party endorsement of his government's Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

Ireland, almost uniquely in Europe, officially bans abortion in all circumstances. But the Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that terminations should be legal if doctors deem one essential to safeguard the life of the woman - including from her own suicide threats.

Tuesday's 138-24 vote backing the bill is the first of several tests. It faces final passage next week.

Several anti-abortion lawmakers from Kenny's Fine Gael party did vote against the bill and now face expulsion. He received strong support from left-wing opposition politicians.

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