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Controversial abortion law passed in Portugal

Portugal's parliament voted Friday after an all-night debate to permit abortion in certain cases. The issue split the country's eight-month-old coalition government and provoked a bitter dispute with the powerful Roman Catholic Church.

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The bill, proposed by Prime Minister Mario Soares's Socialist Party, does not legalize abortion but waives prosecution in cases of pregnancy following rape or when abortion is medically deemed to be advisable.

A bill to legalize abortion, put forward by the opposition Communists, was rejected. The Communists voted with the Socialists on the milder bill, which was approved by a vote of 132-102. Ireland and Belgium are the only remaining Western European countries that still forbid all forms of abortion.

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