Communications Department

National Right to Life Statement on Portuguese Abortion Vote

Feb 13, 2007 | 2007 Press Releases

International pro-abortion forces suffered a setback on Sunday as more than half of Portuguese citizens stayed home in a referendum to liberalize Portugal’s abortion laws.  If passed, abortion would have been legalized for any reason through the 10th week of pregnancy. 

While 59% voted in favor of the referendum, for such a ballot to be valid, 50% of Portugal’s registered voters must vote.  Only 44% voted in yesterday’s ballot – overall that’s only 26% of voters who voted in favor of the referendum.  However, Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates has already said he will push for similar legislation through the Portuguese Parliament.

“Sadly for the women and unborn children of Portugal, Prime Minister Socrates has promised to push and promote pro-abortion legislation through Portugal’s Parliament,” said Raimundo Rojas, NRLC Hispanic Outreach Director.  “With the support of international pro-abortion groups, he is determined to see that abortion on demand is the law of the land in Portugal.”

Portugal is one of only four countries in Europe — the others are Ireland, Poland and Malta — that have laws protecting unborn children from abortion. Along with 33 other countries, all have been criticized by the UN Compliance Committee on the Convention On the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) based on the Committee’s claim that CEDAW creates a “right” to abortion. 

In a February 1, 2007 letter to United States Senators concerning a push for U.S. ratification of CEDAW, NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson and NRLC Vice President for International Affairs Jeanne Head, R.N., noted: 

While the word “abortion” does not appear in the text of the CEDAW itself, this has proved to be of little significance. Article 12 asserts, “State Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.” Since about 1995, Article 12 and other provisions have been creatively interpreted by official bodies, ranging from the European Parliament to the UN CEDAW Committee, to condemn limitations on abortion, on grounds that any restrictions on abortion are per se discrimination against women.

“Ratification of CEDAW by the United States would be used to undermine current and future federal and state regulations on abortion,” stated Johnson. 

The February 1, 2007, letter can be found at:

A complete list of countries criticized by the CEDAW Committee can be found at:

The National Right to Life Committee is the nation’s largest pro-life group with affiliates in all 50 states and over 3,000 local chapters nationwide.  National Right to Life works through legislation and education to protect those threatened by abortion, infanticide, euthanasia and assisted suicide.