Polish ruling restricting abortion rights to take effect on Wednesday

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FILE PHOTO: Protest against Poland's Constitutional Tribunal ruling on abortion, in Warsaw

WARSAW (Reuters) - A Polish Constitutional Court verdict restricting abortion rights is expected to go into effect on Wednesday, Poland's government said on Twitter, three months after the verdict sparked nationwide protests.

In October, the Constitutional Court said terminating pregnancies due to foetal defects should be illegal, ruling against the main exception for legal abortions in the largely Roman Catholic country.

Under the ruling, abortions are only permitted in cases of rape and incest, and when the mother's life or health is endangered.

Conservative values have taken a more prominent role in public life since the nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party took power in 2015. Access to abortion has declined even without the legislative curbs as some doctors refuse to perform the procedure on religious grounds.

Opponents of PiS have accused the party of influencing the court in its ruling, a charge the conservatives deny.

"No law-abiding government should respect this ruling," Borys Budka, leader of Poland's largest opposition party, the centrist Civic Platform, told reporters.

(Reporting by Anna Koper, Joanna Plucinska and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; editing by John Stonestreet)