Abortion in Portugal

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Results of the Portuguese abortion referendum, 2007 by district (Islands shown).

Abortion laws in Portugal were liberalized on April 10, 2007, allowing the procedure to be done on-demand if a woman's pregnancy has not exceeded its tenth week.[1] There is a three-day waiting period for abortions.[2] President Aníbal Cavaco Silva has ratified the new law allowing abortion, recommending nevertheless that measures should be taken to ensure abortion is the last resort.[3] Despite the liberalization of the laws, in practice, many doctors refuse to perform abortions (which they are allowed to do under a conscientious objection clause) as Portugal remains a country where the Catholic tradition has a significant influence.[4] Abortions at later stages are allowed for specific reasons, such as risk to woman's health reasons, rape and other sexual crimes, or fetal malformation; with restrictions increasing gradually at 12, 16 and 24 weeks.[5] The law was signed into law after a February 2007 referendum approved of liberalizing the abortion laws.[6]

Before April 2007, abortion was regulated by Law 6/84 and Law 90/97, and was strongly restricted, allowed only for health reasons, rape and sexual crimes, and fetal malformation.[5] Although during that period the abortion laws in Portugal were relatively similar to those of neighboring Spain, in practice, the law was given a much stricter interpretation in Portugal than in Spain, and obtaining a legal abortion was quite difficult.[7] A previous referendum in June 1998 failed to liberalize the abortion law by a slim margin.[8]

As of 2010, the abortion rate was 9.0 abortions per 1000 women aged 15–44 years.[9]

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