Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva [official website, in Portuguese] on Monday vetoed bills aimed at granting full adoption rights to same-sex couples and at removing restrictions on abortions [press releases, in Portuguese]. The president stated that the legislation represents a radical change that requires broader public consultation. He further added that the parliament has failed to demonstrate that these bills are in the best interest of the country’s children. The president is also blocking the parliament’s move to waive mandatory counseling for women seeking abortions. The president stated that an elimination of such counseling programs would diminish the right to information, and is inconsistent with the laws of other European nations. The presidential vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds majority in the parliament, although it is not presently clear whether the proponents of the bills could gather that many votes.
Both adoption rights of same-sex couples [JURIST news archive] and abortion [JURIST backgrounder] have created considerable controversy in several courts worldwide. In 2013 Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court upheld a law banning same-sex couples from adopting children. Also in 2013 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a woman in a same-sex relationship could adopt her partner’s biological child [JURIST report]. Similarly, the Northern Ireland High Court [official website] held [JURIST report] in 2012 that a law permitting adoption only by heterosexual married couples or single individuals, regardless of their sexual orientation, is unlawful. On the abortion front, the Obama administration earlier this month called on [brief, PDF] the US Supreme Court [official website] to strike down a recently passed Texas abortion law which the administration argues will harm women’s health. Last December a judge for the High Court in Northern Ireland declared [judgment] that Northern Ireland’s abortion laws, which only allow abortion when the mother faces the risk of death or serious injury, are not compatible with human rights laws.