Anibal Cavasco Silva, president of Portugal, ratified a new law Tuesday legalizing abortion up until the 10th week of pregnancy. The legislation was the result of a referendum on Friday that overwhelmingly favored the legalization of abortion. Although Cavasco Silva consented to the new law, he stated that he believes that all women who are seeking to have the procedure should be shown an ultrasound of the fetus, they should be informed about the option of adoption, and be educated about the possible and psychological consequences of an abortion, reports USA Today. Despite Cavasco Silva’s personal beliefs, the new law only requires a mandatory three-day reflection period until the procedure is granted, reports CNN.
President Cavaco Silva recommended that parliament take steps to ensure that abortions remain rare and that the number of procedures does not increase due to the new law. Cavasco Silva said that his intentions were to seek "a reasonable balance between the various points of view," on the abortion debate, CNN reports. The abortion law will be enforced once it is published in official government records which is estimated to be sometime next month.
The old law, which was one of the most restrictive in Europe, only allowed abortion in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if the mother’s health was at risk and in cases of rape up to 16 weeks. The Portuguese government hopes that this new law will prevent dangerous illegal abortions, which have killed and seriously injured over 10,000 Portuguese women each year, CNN reports.
Media Resources: BBC News 4/10/07; CNN 4/11/07; International Herald Tribune 4/10/07; USA Today 4/11/07