Portugal Residents Will Likely Vote to Legalize Abortion Poll Shows

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 5, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Portugal Residents Will Likely Vote to Legalize Abortion Poll Shows

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 5
, 2007

Lisbon, Portgual (LifeNews.com) — Another poll shows that a majority of the citizens of Portugal favor legalizing abortion and plan to vote for an upcoming referendum to do that. Residents of the western European nation are scheduled to vote February 11 on whether to legalize abortion within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

A new poll released Thursday by Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha and the pollster Aximage shows that 64 percent of the Portuguese people favor the abortion referendum.

The poll found that just over 27 percent of voters would reject the referendum and vote to uphold the country’s current pro-life laws.

To go into effect, a majority of voters must approve the abortion referendum and more than 50 percent of the nation’s residents must turn out in order for the vote to count. The poll found nearly 57 percent of voters say they plan to participate.

"It isn’t yet clear, but there is a risk of the ‘yes’ camp winning but voter turnout being less than 50%," pollster Jorge de Sa said told Reuters about the survey.

Voters would be asked the following question: "Do you agree with the decriminalization of voluntary termination of pregnancy if it takes place, at the woman’s request, within the first ten weeks of pregnancy in a legally authorized medical facility?"

Current law makes abortions illegal but allows them through the 12th week of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, life of the mother, or when the unborn child has severe physical or mental handicaps.

If the measure is approved Portugal would leave Ireland, Poland and Malta as the only European nations that prohibit abortions.

In 1998, Portuguese voters turned down a referendum seeking to legalize abortion by a 51-49 percentage vote and only 30 percent of those eligible to vote participated.

Previous polls have also shown a majority favor the abortion referendum.

A November survey reported on by the Diario de Noticias daily newspaper showed 61% of those surveyed would support lifting the abortion ban while 30% would vote against it. Another November poll, published in the daily newspaper Publico, claimed 53 percent of eligible voters favor making abortion legal.

The Catholic Church said it is urging voters there to oppose the referendum.

Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo said voters there should get active in the campaign to oppose the referendum because Catholics should "defend life."

In March 2004, members of Portugal’s parliament voted down three separate proposals to legalize abortion after more than 200,000 petitions were submitted against them.

"The solution for a woman in difficulty should never be the death of her unborn child," one of the leaders of a pro-life coalition, Teresa Aires de Campos, said after the vote.

"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."

Approximately 1,000 legal abortions are currently done each year in Portugal and many women travel to neighboring Spain to have abortions done outside the country’s current limits.