Portugal’s Parliament Votes to Keep Pro-Life Laws on Abortion

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 3, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Portugal’s Parliament Votes to Keep Pro-Life Laws on Abortion

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 3, 2004

Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — Members of the Portuguese parliament voted down proposals to legalize abortion on Wednesday. The move follows the presentation of nearly 200,000 petitions backing the law delivered to MPs by pro-life groups.

According to the French Press Agency, members of Portugal’s ruling government, the Social Democrats, and the more conservative Popular Party, voted against the proposal as expected. The bills, floated by left-wing parties, would have legalized abortion for any reason up to 12 weeks into pregnancy and up to 24 weeks for problem circumstances.

Members of parliament also voted against a proposal to send a vote on abortion to the ballot. The decision likely means that efforts to legalize abortion may be over until the current government’s term expires in 2006.

The votes follow the presentation of almost 200,000 petitions seeking to keep the country pro-life. Portuguese pro-life groups turned the signatures over to Portuguese parliament leader Joao Mota Amaral on Tuesday.

A coalition of over 100 pro-life groups banded together in January to start the signature drive, calling their efforts, "More Life, More Family."

"The solution for a woman in difficulty should never be the death of her unborn child," one of the leaders of the coalition, Teresa Aires de Campos, told a news conference, AFP reports. "We want to create a society where a newborn child is never seen as a burden that needs to be eliminated. We want to create a country where a child is always welcomed."

Their petitions topped a collection of 121,000 petitions abortion advocates submitted in January.

Portugal’s abortion laws are some of the strongest in Europe and abortions are only allowed up to 12 weeks into pregnancy and for very rare reasons such as rape or incest. Ireland and Malta are other European nations with pro-life laws against abortion.

In 1998, Portuguese voters turned down a referendum seeking to legalize abortion by a 51-49 percent vote. Polls prior to the vote showed voters would overturn the pro-life laws.

The issue came to the forefront in December when seven women were on trial for obtaining illegal abortions. They were acquitted earlier this month for lack of evidence.

Officially, only 280 abortions were carried out in 1997 in a country with a population of over 10 million.