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Irish president signs historic abortion ban repeal

More than 66% of voters who took part in a historic May referendum backed the repeal of a constitutional ban on terminating pregnancies.

Activists from the 'Yes' campaign, urging people to vote 'yes' in the referendum to repeal the eighth amendment of the Irish constitution, canvas voters in Dublin on 24 May 2018. Picture: AFP

DUBLIN - Ireland's president on Tuesday signed a constitutional amendment repealing strict abortion laws in the staunchly Catholic country.

More than 66% of voters who took part in a historic May referendum on one of Ireland's most divisive issues backed the repeal of a constitutional ban on terminating pregnancies.

That result was unsuccessfully challenged in the courts and it took another five months for President Michael Higgins to sign the repeal into law.

The signing was largely a formality after the legal challenges failed, however. It was formally announced by the president's office on Twitter.

Ireland's health minister tweeted moments later that he would introduce draft legislation defining the legal terms of abortion to the cabinet next week.

Health Minister Simon Harris said he expected parliament to debate the new bills next month.

The ban's repeal and legalisation of same-sex marriages via a May 2015 referendum have shaken the Roman Catholic Church's authority in Ireland.

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