Agence France-Presse, September 29, 2004
Three in Four Portuguese Want
New Referendum on Abortion: Poll
DATELINE: LISBON -- Three-quarters of all Portuguese,
76.9 percent, want a new referendum on their
nation's tough abortion laws, which only allow
the procedure in cases involving rape or where
there are serious health concerns, a poll published
The survey, carried out for daily newspaper Diario
de Noticias and TSF radio, also found three
in five Portuguese believe the government should
The debate over abortion was reignited earlier
this month in Portugal after the centre-right
government barred a Dutch ship run by abortion
activists from docking in the country.
The ship, operated by the Women on Waves group
which aims to provide abortion services to
women in countries where the practice is banned,
spent two weeks off the coast of Portugal before
giving up its mission and returning to the
It visited two other strongly Roman Catholic
countries where abortion is restricted -- Ireland
in 2001 and Poland two years later -- but this
was the first time it was refused permission
The poll found that more than half of all Portuguese,
56.4 percent, did not agree with the way Defence
Minister Paulo Portas handled the attempt by
the ship to dock in Portugal.
Portas sent two warships to patrol the small
Dutch ship, arguing the government had to ensure
the nation's laws were respected.
Less than one-third of all Portuguese, 30 percent,
agreed with the stand taken by Portas while
the rest were undecided or did not answer,
the Marktest telephone poll of 808 people carried
out between September 14 and 16 found.
In a 1998 referendum, which suffered from low
turnout, voters narrowly rejected by 51 percent
to 49 percent a proposed new law that would
have allowed abortion on demand in the first
10 weeks of pregnancy.
The ruling Social Democratic Party has given
its junior coalition partner, the right-wing
Popular Party which is headed by Portas, assurances
that it would not modify the law nor call a
referendum on the question before the end of
its mandate in 2006.
<< Agence France-Presse -- 9/29/04 >>
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