LISBON, September 29, 2005 ( – The push for a referendum on abortion in Portugal by the country’s ruling socialists has moved forward with a vote in parliament approving the measure. The thin edge of the abortion wedge is in place if the country supports de-criminalizing abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy as the referendum question will request. Current law in Portugal restricts abortion to cases where the mother’s medical health is threatened or in cases of rape.

Despite enormous international pressure, Portugal, one of the world’s most Catholic countries, has resisted full legalization of abortion. A June 1998 referendum saw only a 31% voter turnout, and of those, 51% rejected a bid to introduce abortion on demand.

After a landslide win by socialists in the February general elections, however, the measure that failed in 1998 is being brought to the public once again. The government plans to hold the referendum, which polls indicate is likely to succeed this time, on November 27 pending the decision of Portugal’s president, Jorge Sampaio.

As recently as May, however, President Jorge Sampaio said that because of constitutional restrictions on holding a referendum within a certain period before or after elections, a referendum could not be held until 2006.

Read previous coverage:
  Abortion Referendum Planned for Portugal by New Socialist Government

Abortion Referendum in Portugal Delayed by Prime Minister until 2006