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 performed 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 ratified the 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]

In February 2016, the Portuguese Parliament overrode Anibal Cavaco Silva's veto and officially reversed a law instituting mandatory counseling and medical payments for women seeking an abortion through the public health service which had been rushed through by the previous conservative government when it was already in recess before the elections of October 2015 and had no powers to enact any legislation.[10] The president signed the bill into law on 19 February 2016.[11][12]


  1. ^ RTE News: Portugal president approves new abortion law
  2. ^ USA Today: Portugal president OKs abortion law
  3. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6541143.stm
  4. ^ http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2011-08-10/here-there-portugal-abortion-legal-many-doctors-refuse-perform-them-9005
  5. ^ a b http://www.spdc.pt/files/publicacoes/Pub_AbortionlegislationinEuropeIPPFEN_Feb2009.pdf
  6. ^ BBC News: Portugal will legalise abortion
  7. ^ Ana Maria Prata Amaral Pereira (2007). Women's Movements, the State, and the Struggle for Abortion Rights: Comparing Spain and Portugal in Times of Democratic Expansion (1974--1988). ProQuest. ISBN 978-0-549-11548-9.
  8. ^ Acto realizado em: 28 June 1998 «Concorda com a despenalização da interrupção voluntária da gravidez, se realizada, por opção da mulher, nas 10 primeiras semanas, em estabelecimento de saúde legalmente autorizado?» Archived December 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ "World Abortion Policies 2013". United Nations. 2013. Retrieved 3 March 2014.
  10. ^ http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/portugal-lawmakers-overturn-veto-gay-rights-abortion-law-36836277
  11. ^ "Cavaco promulgou adoção gay e alterações à lei do aborto". TSF Radio Noticias. 19 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Portuguese President Promulgates Gay Adoption Bill". The Perchy Bird. 20 February 2016.