.- In a press conference on the results of the February 11th referendum on abortion in Portugal, the President of the Portuguese Federation for Life (PFL), Isilda Pegado, has denounced what she called the lies of the ruling Socialist party, saying the government has deceived voters on the issue.
Pegado said the government’s “electoral strategy” was one of deception. During the campaign, leaders of the Socialist party guaranteed voters that “abortion would not be liberalized and, therefore, the law would require that women receive counseling and assistance.”
Days after the referendum, Alberto Martins, “the leader of the Socialist party made statements denying this,” Pegado said. Martins reiterated the opposition of the Socialist majority to obligatory counseling for women who seek an abortion up to the tenth week, saying such a requirement would jeopardize the “free autonomous decision” of the woman.
Pegado argued that these statements indicated that “abortion would be completely available up to the tenth week and simply on the basis of the will of the mother.” She said it was a serious matter of concern that “what was said by the Socialist Party before contradicts what was it said 48 hours later to the Portuguese people.”
Pegado said many questions remain about the government’s policy on abortion, such as whether or not ultrasounds would be performed before abortions, whether women would be allowed to see them, and if there has been sufficient information made known to the public about the physical and psychological consequences of having an abortion.
The Portuguese law “does not limit the number of abortions women can freely request, and therefore we are facing a law that could be one of the most liberal in all of Europe,” she stressed.
Pegado said she expected constitutional scholars to weigh in on the issue, as the issue was only decided by “one-fourth of the Portuguese electorate.” The results of the referendum indicate that only three out of ten Portuguese voted in favor of abortion. “Two out of ten voted no and five out of ten didn’t vote,” she said.