On October 19, 2006, the Assembly of the Republic approved a nationwide referendum that would have legalized abortion in Portugal up to 10 weeks after conception. Prior to the referendum, abortion in the predominantly Catholic country was only legal until the twelfth week of pregnancy in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or risk to the mother's health. Although the referendum ultimately failed because it did not meet the 50 percent turnout required to give the vote legal force, exit polls indicated that approximately 59 percent of Portuguese citizens approved of the measure. The Assembly eventually passed a bill that legalized abortion in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, with some restrictions, in March 2007. President Anibal Cavaco Silva approved the law on April 10, 2007.
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