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Report: Most Portuguese doctors refuse to perform legal abortions

July 18, 2007

From FIDES/CWNews:

More than 80% of Portugal’s doctors will refuse to perform abortions, as a new law legalizing the practice comes into effect, the Fides news service reports.

Portugal’s new law to depenalize abortion came into effect on 15 July. The law was approved in a February referendum, despite more than 50% public abstention. This revealed that the government’s proposal does not have the support of the people.

The new law allows abortion until the 10th week of pregnancy at the mother’s request. Although the law was approved by parliament, ratified by the president and published officially, heated discussion continues. Two appeals have been lodged at the Constitutional Court, by Portugal’s Pro-Life Movement and by the Assembly of the autonomous region of Madeira which has refused to apply the law until the court passes judgment and the state assumes the costs of abortion.

The coming into force of the law was met with a high incidence of conscientious objection. Although government health authorities have said that hospitals are ready at the technical level, 80% of the country’s doctors are expected to have recourse to objection of conscience.

The director of the Life Foundation, Manuel Cruz, remarked: “Abortion is the worst distortion of medicine because a doctor vows to cure not to kill. This explains the widespread movement of objection of conscience among Portugal’s doctors.”

The spokesman of the Catholic bishops’ conference, Msgr. Carlos Alberto Moreira di Azevedo, said that “Catholic nurses and doctors have been encouraged to have recourse to their right to objection of conscience and many have done so.”

“This comes as a surprise to the government,” the bishops’ spokesman continued; “many hospitals will not be able to perform abortions because so many doctors are having recourse to their right to objection of conscience.”

Related Post:
Report: Portugal legalizes abortion

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