by Steven Ertelt
June 21, 2007
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — Portugal has officially adopted its new law that will legalize abortions there up to 10 weeks into the pregnancy. The nation’s parliament approved the law in March after being one of the few nations to legally protect unborn children, it was officially adopted today and will eventually go into effect July 15.
Now, Poland, Ireland and Malta are the lone nations on the continent to have pro-life laws prohibiting abortions.
After the March vote, the government’s Health Ministry has been working to come up with guidelines for how the abortion law will be implemented.
One of the medical requirements is that there will be a mandatory three day waiting period before any abortion can be done.
Another allows doctors to opt out of any involvement in abortions and not face legal or job-related consequences. That’s important because as many as 80 percent of doctors at some hospitals in the Catholic nation have said they will not do abortions.
The law will also allow women seeking abortions to first meet with a physician, who will explain the physical and psychological complications from an abortion and counselors will be available upon request.
The Portuguese government will offer free abortions to women under its socialized medicine program or women can go to private abortion businesses to get one.
Two weeks after the abortion, all women are required to attend a family planning meeting where government health officials will advise them of contraception methods.
Under the new law, the identifies of all women having abortions will remain confidential.
President Anibal Cavaco Silva also wanted the new statute to allow women to see an ultrasound of their unborn children and receive information on adoption, but health officials did not put that in the provision.
The March vote in parliament for the abortion law 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 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.