Portugal Parliament Approves Bill to Legalize Abortions, Scrap Pro-Life Law

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

Portugal Parliament Approves Bill to Legalize Abortions, Scrap Pro-Life Law Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 9
, 2007

Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — The Portugal parliament has given final approval to a bill that would legalize abortions there up to 10 weeks into the pregnancy. The vote officially scrap’s the nation’s pro-life life and removes it from a list of a handful of nations in Europe that prohibit abortions.

Now, Poland, Ireland and Malta are the lone nations on the continent to offer legal protection for unborn children from abortion.

The Republican Assembly’s vote on Thursday night came just one month after Portuguese voters failed to approve a ballot proposition to legalize abortion.

Some 58 percent of those voting said they favored making abortion legal but the vote didn’t count because half of the European nation’s voters needed to participate. Examined another way, just 26.2 percent of Portuguese voters backed legalizing abortion.

In allowing abortions up to 10 weeks, the new abortion law would also include a three day waiting period. It will go into effect sometime this summer.

In the parliament, the ruling Socialist Party joined with members of the Communist Party, the Left Block and the Green Party to support legalizing abortion. The Social Democrat Party and the Christian Democrat Party, both conservative opposition parties, opposed the bill.

The ballot vote was the second time Portuguese voters turned back an initiative to legalize abortion. But, Prime Minister Jose Socrates said he would push for a bill in the nation’s legislature to legalize it despite wanting voters to approve a new law instead.

Last month, a leading physician said doctors in Portugal don’t want to do abortions and would seek a conscience clause to make sure they can opt out.

The Dean of the College of Medicine of Portugal, Pedro Nunes, said the Physicians’ Code of Ethics defends human life from conception. Nunes said that doctors, therefore, have the right to exercise conscientious objection in the event that abortion is imposed on the country.

In statements to the EFE news agency, Nunes recalled that the College of Medicine did not take an official position during the recent referendum on the legalization of abortion.

Nevertheless, he emphasized that most doctors defend life from the moment of conception.

Article 47 of the Code of Ethics states, “Doctors must show respect for human life from its inception.” Likewise, it warns that the practice of euthanasia and abortion “constitutes a grave ethical violation,” except in cases of rape or life and health of the mother up to the twelfth week of pregnancy.