Majority of Portuguese Want Abortion Law Reformed

A recent poll shows that nearly 77 percent of Portuguese want a new referendum on Portugal’s restrictive abortion laws. The poll, conducted by the daily newspaper Diario de Noticias and TSF radio, also shows that three in five people believe that the government should decriminalize abortion, reports Agence France-Presse.

The poll was published a month after the Dutch Women on Waves ship traveled to Portugal to bring attention to the nation’s punitive abortion policies and to provide medical abortions using mifepristone for Portuguese women in international waters off the coast of Portugal. Upon arrival of the ship, the Portuguese Defense Minister, Paulo Portas, went so far as to call the small ship a “threat to national security” and sent navy ships to circle Women on Waves. According to the poll, 56.4 percent of those polled did not agree with the tactics used by the Defense Minister.

In 1998, a referendum that would have allowed abortion on demand up to the first 10 weeks of pregnancy was rejected by a narrow margin of 51 to 49 percent. Currently, abortion is allowed in Portugal only in cases when there are serious health concerns or when a woman has been raped.

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Agence France-Presse 9/29/04; Feminist Daily News Wire 8/30/04

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