by Steven Ertelt
April 10, 2007
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — Portugal President Anibal Cavaco Silva signed a bill into law on Tuesday that would legalize abortions there up to 10 weeks into the pregnancy. Last month, the nation’s parliament approved the bill, which came on the heels of the Portuguese people failing to approve a resolution on the ballot to allow abortions.
Silva strongly supported legalizing abortion and hoped the people would have voted for it on the ballot. Though the vote failed, he said it was important to note that a majority of those voting favored abortion.
"The President cannot remain indifferent to the fact," said a statement Silva’s administration released.
Portugal’s Socialist government now has 60 days to regulate the new law before it is implemented and Silva’s administration highlighted additional parts of the law he favored.
Silva supports ensuring that women are informed of abortion’s risks and alternatives to abortion and get the information in a mandatory pre-abortion counseling. He wants the father of the baby to be present at the counseling and for the couple to receive information about adoption.
Pro-life advocates in parliament, who knew the abortion law would pass, won concessions allowing those provisions to limit the number of abortions and promote alternatives.
They also got a three-day waiting period before an abortion can be done added to the bill with the hopes that some women would change their minds.
Silva said he hopes the law allowing abortions would reduce the number of illegal abortions there.
"After the law is implemented, it should be monitored to evaluate whether it effectively reduces not only the number of clandestine abortions but also the number of abortions in general," his administration said.
Pro-life advocates, led by the Catholic Church, strongly opposed legalizing abortions.
With the new law, Poland, Ireland and Malta are the lone nations on the continent to offer legal protection for unborn children from abortion.
In the ballot vote, 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 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.