After a long, heated national debate, Portuguese lawmakers yesterday narrowly defeated a bill which would have allowed unrestricted abortions during the first twelve weeks of pregnancy. The bill lost by a 112 - 111 vote with three abstentions. The lawmakers did however, vote to extend the period for abortion in cases of rape or incest. Odete Santos, one of the many sponsors of the bill, commented after the vote, "Portuguese women were the big losers. Deputies will not have a lot of responsibility and a lot weighing on their conscience. Their vote means that women will have to continue risking their lives with illegal abortions." Approximately 16,000 illegal abortions are performed each year in the predominately Roman Catholic country.
Media Resources: The New York Times - February 21, 1997