12 February 2007

Portugal says "yes" to abortions

Portugal may be 90% Catholic, but that didn't prevent the electorate from voting 59% in favour of allowing abortion on demand during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Although the turnout was lower than the 50% which makes referendums in Portugal legally binding, the Socialist government is expected to proceed quickly with a new law. This will be a huge relief to the 40,000 Portuguese women a year who either travel abroad or risk back street abortions and up to three years in prison.

The new law will leave Ireland, Poland and Malta as the only European countries that either ban or severely restrict abortion. Prime Minister Jose Socrates referred to the current prohibition and the damage it does to women's health as "Portugal's most shameful wound." Finally the wound is to be healed.

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