by Steven Ertelt
February 13, 2007
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — As the citizens of Portugal look back on Sunday’s vote on an abortion referendum, a leading pro-abortion activist discussed how supporters were able to get 59 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, a leading pro-life group responded to the vote saying it was a setback because relatively few Portuguese backed abortion.
Portuguese voters backed the abortion referendum on a 59 to 41 percent margin but it didn’t take effect because only 44 percent of the country turned out to vote. More than half had to participate for the vote to count.
Examined another way, just 26.2 percent of Portuguese voters backed legalizing abortion.
If passed, abortion would have been legalized for any reason through the 10th week of pregnancy.
As a result of the failure, the country’s ruling Socialist government says it will pursue a bill in the nation’s parliament to legalize abortion.
Alda Sousa, from the radical Left Bloc, talked with the Socialist Worker magazine about how abortion backers obtained 59 percent of those voting.
She said they did well because they made the argument about the problems associated with illegal abortions and focuses on cases of women being jailed and the medical complications resulting from them.
Sousa also said "victory was won through active campaigning by several pro-choice groups who worked together while focusing on their own specific areas of concern."
Abortion advocates organized groups of doctors talking about the illegal abortions in the media and put together a pro-abortion Catholic group to appeal with more of a religious message.
They also organized young voters to distribute information in theaters and workplaces.
"We campaigned across the country, but we paid special attention to districts where the no vote had won in 1998," Sousa said.
"We also focused our campaign around the idea that it was intolerable for women to be prosecuted and put on trial," Sousa added. "That was the argument that the no camp could not answer – although last week they tried proposing that while women should not be penalized for having abortions, abortion should remain a crime."
She said having the support of the ruling government was also helpful, as backers of the abortion referendum didn’t have it last time when they were defeated by a larger margin.
Meanwhile, a leading pro-life organization in the United States said "pro-abortion forces suffered a setback" because 56 percent of voters stayed home rather than endorsing abortion.
"Sadly for the women and unborn children of Portugal, Prime Minister Socrates has promised to push and promote pro-abortion legislation through Portugal’s Parliament," said Raimundo Rojas, NRLC Hispanic Outreach Director.
"With the support of international pro-abortion groups, he is determined to see that abortion on demand is the law of the land in Portugal," Rojas added.
Portugal is one of only four countries in Europe — the others are Ireland, Poland and Malta — that have laws protecting unborn children from abortion.
Along with 33 other countries, all have been criticized by the UN Compliance Committee on the Convention On the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) based on the Committee’s claim that CEDAW creates a "right" to abortion.