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Archive for Saturday, March 10, 2007

Parliament votes to loosen abortion law

March 10, 2007

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— Portugal's parliament voted overwhelmingly to legalize abortion up until the 10th week of pregnancy, a major step in bringing this small Roman Catholic nation in line with most of its European neighbors.

The Thursday night vote came less than a month after a popular referendum failed due to low turnout, but nonetheless showed that most voters were in favor of legalizing abortion - in line with the trend across Europe.

"Some battles are worth a lifetime," Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates, a supporter of abortion rights, said Friday night at his party's headquarters. "There was nothing more undignified for women than backstreet abortions."

By European standards, the new law is still on the restrictive side. Women can seek abortions up to the 24th week of pregnancy in Britain and up to the 12th week in Germany, France and Italy. In the United States, a 1973 Supreme Court ruling established the right to abortion, although individual states have passed laws with varying restrictions.

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