by Steven Ertelt
November 15, 2007
Lisbon, Portugal (LifeNews.com) — Doctors in Portugal are refusing to comply with a governmental mandate that they remove from their national organization’s bylaws a provision saying it’s wrong to do an abortion. The government of this western European nation legalized abortion in January and has seen numerous physicians decline to do them.
Pedro Nunes, the head of Portugal’s Medical Association, said doctors have a right to object to doing abortions despite threats from the government to take them to court.
"Having an opinion and ethical principles is what separates rational beings from a flock of sheep," he told Reuters.
The code his organization has in place says abortion is objectionable and that physicians should respect human life from conception until natural death.
"This has nothing to do with abortion. It has to do with doctors having the right to have their own opinion," Nunes, whose group represents about 35,000 doctors, told Reuters. "The health minister threatened to take us to court if we did not change our code … but the code can only be changed by doctors and not by a health minister."
Nunes is referring to Health Minister Antonio Correia de Campos, who has condemned the code for conflicting with the country’s new law, allowing abortions up to 10 weeks into the pregnancy.
The government approved the law despite two national referendums that saw voters fail to back the measure to legalize abortion.
According to government figures, about 2,400 abortions have been done since legalization, but most of them have been done with the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug that has killed 13 women worldwide and injured more than 1,100 in the United States alone.
Nunes said physicians who are pro-life shouldn’t do abortions despite whatever threats may come from the government.
"If a doctor firmly believes that a human life begins upon conception he shouldn’t perform abortions," he said.
He did not say how many doctors have refused to do abortions, but explained that they can opt out of doing them and refer women considering an abortion to another physician.