Catholic World News News Feature

Portugal moves to legalize abortion March 12, 2007

Portugal’s parliament has approved a measure that would allow legal abortion through the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, less than a month after a nationwide referendum in which most voters approved a similar proposal.

Although the referendum on February 11 was not legally binding, because the number of voters casting ballots fell below the statutory limit, the Socialist government of Prime Minister José Socrates pressed ahead with plans to legalize abortion, noting that 59% of the voters who took part in the referendum had approved the plan.

The prime minister had complained that Portugal’s existing law, which allows abortion only in cases of rape or a threat to the mother’s health, is “backward.” He hailed the parliamentary passage of a new law that will allow abortion on demand in early pregnancy. “Some battles are worth a lifetime,” he said after the vote.

When the new measure becomes law, after a ratification process that could take several months, Ireland and Malta will be the only countries in the European Union that still ban abortion in most circumstances.