Slovakia’s parliament on Thursday narrowly rejected proposed legislation that would have tightened access to abortion in the European Union country.
The bill was rejected by one vote, as 67 of the 134 lawmakers present in the 150-seat house voted in favour of it. A similar proposal to restrict abortion was rejected a year ago, also by one vote.
The bill was submitted by conservative lawmakers for the Ordinary People, the senior party in the coalition government led by Prime Minister Eduard Heger.
It has drawn protests at home and abroad.
Among its key provisions, the mandatory waiting period before women have access to abortion at their request would have been extended from 48 to 96 hours.
At the same time, women would have had to give their reasons for having an abortion.
The new legislation would also have banned what it calls advertising abortion and services linked to it, which might have restricted access to information women get publicly from medical experts, clinics and hospitals.
Currently, abortion is legal in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in the Roman Catholic stronghold in Eastern Europe; it is available after that for certain medical reasons.
But doctors have a right to refuse to provide abortion due to conscientious objection.