International press focuses on Portugal’s “tougher” abortion laws

Europe’s press has gone to town over the Portuguese government’s decision to make women pay “taxa moderadora” hospital fees when seeking abortions.

The decision – taken after stormy debate in parliament yesterday (Wednesday) – has been presented by Agence France-Presse as Portugal “tightening” abortion laws, and repeated almost verbatim by news media in Europe, the US and even Africa.

But the truth is that Portuguese people have been faced with the requirement to pay for hospital consultations and procedures since the PSD-CDS coalition government came into power in 2011.

Opposition MPs nonetheless see the changes as a way of “humiliating” women who choose to seek abortions.

Reacting particularly to clauses that introduce the need for social and psychological support, they refuted completely the explanation by PSD Carlos Abreu Amorim that the new measures were designed to “improve the conditions in which women take these difficult decisions”.

Agence France-Presse affirms the new laws mean women will have to pay up to €50 for a termination.

With women’s rights activists shouting “shame, shame” from the public galleries, CDS coalition MP Teresa Anjinho told the house that “taxas moderadoras protect the equality of the health system”.

National tabloid Correio da Manhã has suggested another reason for the changes. “Various women’s rights associations warn that they are designed to prolong the whole (abortion) process so that it exceeds the legal limit of 10 weeks”.

CM adds that opposition parties all guarantee they would revoke the measures in a new parliament.

Said the PS’ Isabel Moreira: “In the PSD anything goes. To get votes, they hunt women.”

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