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Portuguese march against abortion legalization referendum

[JURIST] Anti-abortion protestors took to the streets in Lisbon, Portugal [JURIST news archive] Sunday in advance of a referendum vote scheduled for February 11 in which voters will decide whether to ease restrictions imposed by the current Portuguese abortion law [text, in Portuguese]. The Portuguese Parliament [official website, in Portuguese] approved [JURIST report] the national referendum in October after the ruling Socialist Party [party website, in Portuguese] proposed [press release, in Portuguese; JURIST report] the idea in September. If passed, the referendum would legalize abortion up until the 10th week of pregnancy for all women. The current law only permits an abortion [JURIST news archive] up until the 12th week of pregnancy in cases of risk to the mother's health, up until the 16th week in cases of rape, and up to the 24th week in cases of fetal malformation.

In 1998, a similar referendum on legalizing abortion was declared void due to low voter turnout. This time, over 50 percent of registered voters must cast their ballots for the referendum to be valid, while current opinion polls reportedly show support for the measure waning. BBC News has more.

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