Wednesday, January 24, 2007
Voters in Portugal will cast their ballots Feb. 11 on a referendum to legalize abortions during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.
The vote is part of a controversy also building in Ireland, Poland and Malta, the three other countries in the 27-member European Union that ban abortion. In addition to legislative initiatives such as referenda, advocates are also tussling with governments in national and international courts.
In Portugal, a woman can be prosecuted for obtaining an illegal abortion. Anti-choice advocates in the United States typically do not call for the prosecution of women who seek abortion, thus undermining their own assertion that the fetus is a person. But while Portugal's stance may be more consistent in this regard, its law has an exception for rape, which is also incompatible with the position that a fetus is a person. Read more about Portugal's abortion laws at Women on Waves.