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Portugal PM to seek abortion legalization despite low referendum turnout

[JURIST] The Portuguese government plans to seek approval in the Portuguese Parliament [official website, in Portuguese] of a proposal to make abortion legal in the country, despite low turnout [JURIST report] in Sunday's referendum on loosening the current law [text, in Portuguese]. Approximately 59 percent of voters were in favor of loosening restrictions against abortion, while 41 percent voted to keep abortion illegal. Only 40 percent of the population turned out, less than the 50 percent threshold requirement to support a change in the law. Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates [official profile] of the ruling Socialist party [party website, in Portuguese] said Monday that he was not deterred by the numbers, contending there were enough "yes" votes for parliament to lift the abortion ban.

Jose Ribeiro e Castro [Wikipedia profile], head of the opposing Popular party [party website, in Portuguese], said however that the turnout was not sufficient to show that the people of Portugal wanted the anti-abortion law loosened. The country's new abortion law would allow abortions in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, while the present law only allows abortions in order to save the woman's life, in rape cases, or if the baby will be born with a deformity or incurable disease. A specific date for a parliamentary vote to lift the abortion ban has not yet been set. Reuters has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

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