Church uncomfortable with abortion referendum

DOM José Policarpo, Lisbon’s patriarch cardinal, has recorded his strong reservations about a possible referendum on abortion next year, warning that it would “split society in half” at a time when “Portugal needs to come together”.

The bishop said the issue of voluntary interruption to pregnancy is “very painful” and “fractious”. He denied it was a religious question, describing it instead as an ethical and cultural one, and warned that the eventual legalisation of abortion would lead to new legislation about euthanasia.

As it promised at the beginning of the debate on its government programme, the Socialist Party (PS) presented in parliament a proposal to the referendum on abortion and a proposal to modify the law. The socialists revived the question posed in the 1998 referendum – “Do you agree that abortions performed in a legal medical environment, with the mother’s approval, during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy, should cease to constitute a crime?”