.- The Dean of the College of Medicine of Portugal, Pedro Nunes, said this week that the Physicians’ Code of Ethics defends human life from conception and that most doctors oppose abortion. Nunes said that doctors, therefore, have the right to exercise conscientious objection in the event that abortion is imposed on the country.
In statements to the EFE news agency, Nunes recalled that the College of Medicine did not take an official position during the recent referendum on the legalization of abortion. Nevertheless, he emphasized that most doctors defend life from the moment of conception.
Article 47 of the Code of Ethics states, “Doctors must show respect for human life from its inception.” Likewise, it warns that the practice of euthanasia and abortion “constitutes a grave ethical violation,” except in cases of rape or life and health of the mother up to the twelfth week of pregnancy.
The referendum, which was held last Sunday, passed with 58% in favor of legalizing abortion for any reason up to the tenth week of pregnancy, and 42% voting against. Nevertheless, over half of the nation’s registered voters did not participate in the referendum and thus it is not considered binding.
Despite the lack of overwhelming public support, Prime Minister Jose Socrates announced his party would present a measure that would grant legalization. The bill would have to be approved by Congress and then signed by the President.
This is the second referendum on the legalization of abortion in less than 10 years. In 1998 voters rejected another referendum.