By Gudrun Schultz

  LISBON, Portugal, January 9, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - More than 64 percent of Portuguese voters would support a law permitting abortion on demand in the first ten weeks of pregnancy, according to a new poll released last week.

  Commissioned by the Portuguese daily newspaper Correio da Manha, the survey showed 64.1 percent of those questioned intended to vote yes in a coming referendum on the issue next month.

  Scheduled for Feb. 11, the referendum will ask voters: “Do you agree with the decriminalization of the voluntary interruption of pregnancy, in the first 10 weeks, in a legally authorized health establishment?”

  While only 27.3 percent of those questioned said they would vote to uphold the current law, an anticipated low turnout for the referendum could render the results invalid..

  Portuguese law requires that at least 50 percent of voters participate before a referendum result can be considered binding. Only 56 percent of the electorate is expected to vote in February’s referendum.

“It isn’t yet clear, but there is a risk of the ‘yes’ camp winning but voter turnout being less than 50%,” pollster Jorge de Sa said.

  In a very similar political situation on a moral issue last year, Italy’s bishops convinced many Catholic voters to stay home which resulted in far less than 50% of voters showing up for a vote on gutting Italy’s in vitro fertilization restrictions. The low turnout for the referendum automatically killed the proposal.

  Currently in portugal abortion is only permitted to save the woman’s life, or in cases of rape or fetal malformation up until 12 weeks gestation.

  An earlier referendum in 1998 was declared void after only 32 percent of the population turned out to vote.

  Bishop António Marto, of Leiria Fátima diocese, spoke out against the move to break down abortion laws in his New Year message last week, the Scotsman reported.

“The liberalisation of abortion ... is not an adequate and worthy answer,” he said. “It does not attack the problem in its roots.”

“The threat to peace is not just in armed conflicts and in terrorism; it is also, subtly but no less cutting, in the silent deaths brought about by hunger, abortion, embryo experimentation and euthanasia.”

  Prominent doctor Isabel Neto,  with Nao Obligada, a group campaigning against the law change, said, “In a society that faces a tsunami of chronic illnesses and the fall in births, we should not be moving funds to abortions but to the women who are going to have more children.”

  See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

  Socialist Portugal Government to Introduce Abortion Vote January 2007
  http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/sep/06091803.html

  Five Convicted of Abortion Crimes in Portugal
  http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jul/06070505.html

  Abortion Referendum Planned for Portugal by New Socialist Government
  http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/mar/05032310.html

  Italian IVF Referendum Ends with Half the Required Vote
  http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2005/jun/05061303.html