by Steven Ertelt
March 13, 2007
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — Portugal’s Catholic bishops responded to a vote in the European nation’s parliament that would legalize abortions there up to 10 weeks into the pregnancy. They say they are disappointed that political leaders voted down the country’s pro-life law and took it off a small list of nation’s that prohibit abortions.
The bishops met at a conference on Tuesday and condemned the new abortion law as "unfair," the Lusa news agency said.
"We are not the least bit interested in participating in a law which is unfair," Bishop Dom Carlos Azevedo said, according to the news service. "Abortion disrespects the dignity of human life and the Episcopal Conference does not have to contribute to it."
Lusa reported that the bishop was pleased that pro-life advocates in parliament, who knew the abortion law would pass, at least won some concessions by requiring a three-day waiting period before an abortion can be done, with the hopes that some women would change their minds.
"Of course the Christians in parliament tried to make this law the least harmful they could," the bishop said.
He also urged health care workers to not get involved in the abortion industry the new law would create.
"We face women who have abortions with a look of mercy and forgiveness but our Christian conscience forces us not to collaborate with any attempt to the dignity of the human being," he told Lusa.
With the new law, Poland, Ireland and Malta are the lone nations on the continent to offer legal protection for unborn children from abortion.
The parliament’s vote 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.
The new law 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.