Government wants to abolish free abortions

A proposal to abolish free abortions carried out in Portugal’s state hospitals is being presented in Parliament today (June 26) by the PSD/CDS-PP coalition government.

“If a person breaks their arm and is hospitalised, they have to pay a fee. If a woman does a mammography, which is a very important test to detect a common disease, she has to pay a fee. It isn’t fair that abortions are treated differently,” parliamentary vice-president Teresa Caeiro (CDS-PP) told Renascença radio.

Luís Graça, the head of the obstetrics ward at Lisbon’s Santa Maria Hospital, has also agreed.

“If a person who is sick has to pay a hospital fee, then why is a person who isn’t sick exempt,” he asked.

The coalition’s bid to make abortions subject to the normal “taxas moderadoras” (hospital fees) paid by everyone else using state hospitals is supported by a citizens’ initiative ‘Pelo Direito a Nascer’ (For the Right to be Born), which has gathered 48,000 signatures and will be discussed in Parliament next Friday (July 3).

Opposition parties, however, are against the proposal.

“The current laws concerning abortion are balanced and have been well-received by the population and the National Health System (SNS),” said Sónia Fertuzinhos, the vice-parliamentary head of the socialists (PS).

“Thus we oppose trying to change a peaceful law which the crushing majority of Portuguese people agree with,” she added.

Communist MP Paula Santos says the proposal represents a “huge regression for women’s sexual and reproductive rights”, while Left Bloc’s (BE) Helena Pinto says the current law is a “settled matter”.

“We were able to solve a problem that Portuguese women faced through the popular vote. Thus this is a settled matter, a consolidated law,” she said.

Data cited by Jornal de Notícias – which claims the application of “taxas moderadoras” could take the cost of abortions up to €60 – shows that 133,000 abortions have been carried out in Portugal since 2007, the year abortions in this country become legal.

2014 stood out as the year with the lowest rate of abortions – 16,039.