.- The Portuguese Congress has approved a law that legalizes abortion up to the tenth week of pregnancy, despite that fact that the results of a recent referendum were non-binding due to low voter turnout.
Passage of the measure came as left-wing lawmakers garnered enough votes from among their own ranks and from independent members of congress.
The measure must be ratified by the President of Portugal, Anibal Cavaco Silva. Once ratified it would replace the 1984 law that allowed abortion only for cases of rape, if the life or health of the mother was threatened, or if fetal deformation had been detected.
Now, twenty three years later, the law will be changed after a February 11th referendum in favor of legalizing abortion up to the tenth week passed by a small margin, although the results were non-binding because less than 50% of the electorate cast a vote.
The new law will require women to receive counseling and information about how an abortion takes place and its consequences. They will also be required to observe a three-day waiting period before making the final decision.
Lawmakers opposed to the measure pointed out that the new law does not conform to the call by President Cavaco for a consensus on the issue, and that its passage confirms the suspicions of many that the Socialist Party and the Prime Minister “were deceiving voters during the campaign and on the very eve of the referendum.”