Monday, January 29, 2007

Portuguese anti-abortion groups rally

LISBON, Portugal — Anti-abortion activists marched through the Portuguese capital Sunday, two weeks before the country holds a referendum on whether to lift stringent restrictions on the procedure.

Protesters carried colored flags and banners representing the different phases of life. Police said about 2,000 participated in the demonstration, but organizers placed the figure at 5,000.

"We want to tell the world that we believe in life from conception to the last sigh," said organizer Sofia Guedes.

Portugal, which is heavily Roman Catholic, has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Abortions are illegal unless a woman has been raped, her health is in danger or the fetus is malformed. Abortions can only be performed until the 12th week of pregnancy.

The Feb. 11 referendum will ask if abortion should be allowed for all women until the 10th week of pregnancy.

In 1998, the "No" vote narrowly won a similar ballot, but it was declared void because of a low turnout. More than 50 percent of the country's almost 9 million registered voters need to cast ballots for a referendum to be valid.



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