Sunday, February 11, 2007


Today a referendum was held in Portugal. Voters were asked to decide whether to make abortion legal in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, if carried out at the woman’s request in a registered clinic. Turnout was about 44%, less than the 50% required to make the results binding, but of those who did vote, 59% backed the proposed change to the current law (currently abortions are only allowed in cases of rape, a health threat to the mother or serious foetal abnormality). The people spoke with a clear voice and the leader of the ruling Socialist Party already promised that a new law will now be discussed and approved in the parliament. By these means, Portugal will finally get rid of one of the most restrictive laws in the European Union, leaving behind the - in this case - unpleasant and uncomfortable company of Ireland, Malta and Poland, and putting an end to the national shame of back-street abortions. The Socialist Party and its leader José Socrates, who made holding another referendum (in a referendum held in 1998, voters upheld the existing abortion law by 51 to 49%, even though nearly 70% of voters abstained) part of their election platform in 2005, come out of today’s voting as clear winners. Also on the winners’ side are many Catholics who dared to speak in favour of changing the law in spite of the pressure of the Catholic hierarchy who claimed that Catholics should oppose the changes. Being one of these Catholics and also a Socialist, I have good reasons to feel happy tonight. But the happiness I feel is mostly for the biggest winners of today’s referendum: the rights and dignity of all Portuguese women! It was about time!


Post a Comment

<< Home