Socialists push to have referendum on legalization of abortion in Portugal

.- A new law that would legalize abortion in Portugal up to the seventh week of pregnancy could be the subject of a national referendum if a proposal by country’s Socialist Party is approved.

Socialist party lawmakers said the legalization of abortion “is a question of honor for socialism” and said their proposal could be debated and voted on by the Portuguese parliament on September 28, well before the presidential elections of January 2006.

The opposition Popular Party said the proposal is unconstitutional because a similar one was brought before parliament and rejected by President Jorge Sampaio last March, and parliamentary rules prevent it from being brought up twice during the same legislative session.

Portuguese law currently allows abortion up to the twelfth week of pregnancy only in cases of rape or if it threatens the  life or psychiatric health of the mother.  Illegal abortions are punishable by up to three years in prison.

The Socialists’ proposal would allow abortion on demand up to the tenth week, and up to the sixteenth week for the life of the mother.  It would also reduce the prison term for obtaining abortions for other reasons to two years.

A national referendum on a similar proposal was voted down in 1999.

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