Portugal to legalise early abortion

The Portuguese government says it will go ahead with plans to legalise abortions in the predominantly Catholic country even though a weekend referendum on the issue failed to attract the quorum required for a binding vote.

The Age reports that Portugal's ruling Socialist government will use its parliamentary majority to legalise abortion during the first ten weeks of pregnancy even though more than half of the Catholic nation's 8.7 million voters abstained from voting in the referendum.

Of those who did vote, 59.3 per cent wanted to lift the abortion ban and 40.8 per cent to keep it.

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates said the outcome was in favour of lifting the ban, despite the turnout and pleas from the Catholic Church to keep restrictions in place.

"The people spoke with a clear voice," Mr Socrates said in a televised speech.

"The law will now be discussed and approved in Parliament. Our interest is to fight clandestine abortion and we have to produce a law that respects the result of the referendum," he said.

The change will leave only a small group of European countries, which includes Ireland, Poland and Malta, that still either ban or severely restrict abortion, the The UK Guardian says.

The paper also published quotes from Catholics who voted in favour of legalising abortion.

"I voted yes and will always vote yes. Abortions will always take place, so why not vote to allow women to carry them out under decent conditions? I am a Catholic, but that does not mean I am not free to vote," Laurinda Duarte, on her way to church in Lisbon yesterday, told the Guardian.

Welsh bishop condemns abortion as contraception

In another story, a Welsh bishop has condemned the large number of women they say are using abortion as a form of contraception, despite being in long-term relationships, the IC Network reports.

According to the report, poll figures published yesterday reveals that more than one in five Welsh women in their late 20s and early 30s have had an abortion while in a long-term relationship.

Half of those questioned had become pregnant after failing to use contraception.

The poll of more than 1,000 women aged 26-34 across the UK found of those who had had an abortion, 25 per cent of Welsh woman had forgotten to take the contraceptive pill, while 25 per cent were not using any contraception at all.

Most (93 per cent) of the women questioned for contraceptive manufacturers, Schering Health Care, said it was vital they had control over whether they had children.

Around 18 per cent said they would consider having an abortion if they conceived now.

However, Cardiff Catholic Archbishop Peter Smith said choosing to terminate a pregnancy because it was inconvenient was "appalling".

"There is the mentality that 'I mustn't have my career disrupted' but that's an appalling attitude. Children are a wonderful blessing. It's 40 years since the abortion act was passed and it's created a mentality among many people that because abortion is permitted by law, there's nothing wrong with it."

Portuguese push on with abortion bill (The Age, 13/2/07)
Catholic Portugal votes to allow abortion in early pregnancy (Guardian, 12/2/07)
Pro-abortion referendum in Portugal fails (Catholic News Agency, 12/2/07)
'I want' abortion generation criticised (IC Network, 12/2/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Project Rachel Australia
Life Office, Sydney Archdiocese

Portugal to decide on abortion legalisation (CathNews, 1/2/07)
Priest requests prayers for abortion practitioners (CathNews, 10/7/06)
Argentine Catholic University in bid to save unborn child (CathNews, 2/8/06)

Pope Praises Costa Rica on Life Issue (Zenit, 11/2/07)

13 Feb 2007

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