LISBON, Portugal -- Parliament approved a landmark measure Wednesday to make laws on abortion in Portugal more pro-abortion. Portugal historically had had pro-life laws on the subject.
In a decisive vote that came just one year after a similar bill was defeated by a single vote, lawmakers voted 116-107 to allow abortions on request up to the 10th week of pregnancy.
Previously, the law in this predominantly Roman Catholic country permitted abortions only for strict medical reasons, including fetal deformaties or risk to the mother's life.
The vote came after a five-hour debate in the 230-seat Republican Assembly, Portugal's parliament. Supporters in the parliament's public gallery erupted into spontaneous applause when the result was announced.
Socialist Party lawmaker Sergio Sousa Pinto, the bill's sponsor, hailed it as a great victory.
Demonstrations by hundreds of pro-abortion and pro-life activists outside the parliament.
The measure will take effect in 90 days unless opponents can find a way to block it. The Social Democratic party said it would consider proposing a bill to hold a national referendum on abortion, which could at least delay implementation of the new abortion law.
The Popular Party said it will ask the Constitutional Court to review the bill. The bill could be blocked if the court rules it is illegal.
The bill was a less pro-abortion version of one presented last year that proposed unrestricted abortions through the 12th week of pregnancy.
The abortion issue was revived after the Socialist Party's 1995 election victory after 10 years in opposition.