Last night Portugal’s parliament voted to legalize abortion up until the 10th week of pregnancy, just weeks after a popular referendum showed that 59.3 percent of voters were in favor of legalizing abortion. The referendum failed due to low voter turnout, but Portuguese Prime Minister Jose Socrates pledged to honor the wishes of the voters and legalize abortion in Portugal. The old abortion law was one of the most rigid abortion laws in Europe, with the procedure banned except in cases of rape, fetal malformation, or if a woman's life or health was at risk.
Ricardo Rodrigues, a senior legislator called parliament’s vote, “a turning point in Portugal's history,” and said that he hoped decriminalizing abortion will put an end to dangerous backstreet abortions. Each year over 20,000 Portuguese women put their lives at risk through dangerous self-induced or back-alley abortions, and thousands more terminate unwanted pregnancies in underground private clinics or travel to other countries with less restrictive abortion laws.