Those that voted for a change in Portugal’s strict abortion laws celebrate victory in Sunday’s referendum. However the low turnout means the vote is not legally binding. Portugal’s ruling Socialists will now use the majority in parliament to try to win approval for legalising abortion.
Prime Minister Jose Socrates spoke to the country once the results were announced. He said: “Abortion will be legal in this county within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, if it is requested by the woman and carried out in a registered clinic.”
Its an important result for the Socialists as they promised a vote on the abortion issue as part of their 2005 election campaign following the failure of the previous poll in 1998.The breakdown of the result is as follows 56.39 percent abstained. While 59.25 voted for a change in the law and 40.75 percent voted no.
The leader of the “No” voting Christian Democrat party Jose Ribeiro e Castro has questioned the Prime Minister’s interpretation of the vote.
He said: “We voted no. We continue and will always be on the side of life. I reaffirm at this date and this hour, our party’s decision to vote No was a compromise, between the right to life and the health and dignity of women. We will never give up.”
One “yes” voter, a doctor, beamed. “This result is an unequivocal sign for parliament to legislate according to the will of the Portuguese.”