The Socialist Prime Minister of Portugal, Jose Socrates, conceded late on Sunday that despite his party’s tremendous efforts to grant broader access to abortion in the country, a pro-abortion referendum has failed to pass due to insufficient voter participation.
With nearly all the votes counted, the referendum, which would have legalized abortion for whatever reason, up until the 10th week of pregnancy, had gained 58 % of the vote. The other 42% of voters came out against the proposal.
However, despite a multi-million dollar campaign on the part of the abortion industry and the socialist government, only 44% of the country’s 8.9 million registered voters participated. Under Portuguese law, a referendum must involve over half of the country’s registered voters in order to pass.
Socrates, for his part, says he will remain undeterred in his quest to change the law in Portugal. With the failure of his referendum, the Prime Minister has vowed to legalize abortion by way of parliament, a body over which his Socialist party holds strong control.
Under current law, abortion is allowed only in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or if the mother's health is in danger, and only in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
This is the second referendum proposed by pro-abortion groups in Portugal in less than 10 years. In 1998, a majority of Portuguese voters rejected a similar proposal, though that referendum was declared void due to low turnout as well. Following the 1998 referendum’s failure, a systematic pro-abortion campaign was initiated, directed especially at the country’s youth.