by Steven Ertelt
July 4, 2006
Lisbon, Portgual (LifeNews.com) — A Portuguese abortion practitioner and nurse have been convicted of performing illegal abortions as the nation’s parliament prepares for a vote this fall on whether to send a referendum to legalize abortion to the people for a vote. Three women who obtained illegal abortions were also prosecuted.
The five people had previously been acquitted for the crime in 2004 but the national government appealed and Portuguese reopened the case, the Lusa news agency reported.
Abortion is illegal in Portugal unless done to save the mother’s life or in cases of rape and incest — and then is only allowed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
The Portuguese court gave the women suspended sentences of six months while the nurse was given a 16-month jail sentence. The abortion practitioner will serve a total of three years and eight months in prison.
All five have 15 days to appeal the decision to the nation’s Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, the ruling Socialist government is moving ahead with plans to call for a vote in parliament in September that would place a proposal on the ballot in January 2007 for Portuguese voters to consider. Should voters approve the proposal, abortion would be legalized in the European nation through the 12th week of pregnancy.
Last year a Portugal court blocked a vote the government had planned for November to overturn the nation’s laws prohibiting abortion. The court ruled the vote could not take place before September 2006 because the country’s parliament previously rejected a measure earlier in the year to hold a vote.
Prime Minister Jose Socrates, who favors abortion, said then that he would abide by the ruling and called for a vote by September of this year.
Socialist spokesperson and member of parliament Vitalino Canas confirmed to The Portugal News the plans for the September and January votes. He indicated the nation’s parliament would likely vote on the ballot measure on September 15.