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Portuguese anti-abortion groups stage march before referendum next month

Portuguese anti-abortion groups stage march before referendum next month

Several thousand anti-abortion activists marched through Portugal's capital Sunday, about two weeks before the country holds a national referendum on whether to legalize abortion.
The protesters, who belonged to 40 anti-abortion associations and civic movements, carried colored flags and banners representing the different phases of life _ from conception to old age. They marched from a maternity in central Lisbon to Luminous Fountain in the western part of the capital.
Police said 9,000 had participated, but organizers put the figure at more than double that.
Portugal has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in Europe. Abortions are illegal in the conservative Roman Catholic country unless a woman has been raped, her health is in danger or the fetus is malformed and they can only be performed until the 12th week of pregnancy.
The referendum, on Feb. 11, will ask if abortion should be allowed for all women until the 10th week of pregnancy. The referendum's official campaign begins Monday.
"We want to tell the world that we believe in life from conception to the last sigh," organizer Sofia Guedes said.
This is the second time a referendum on legalizing abortion in Portugal will be held.
In 1998, a similar ballot was declared void because of a low turnout, but with the "No" vote winning narrowly.
More than 50 percent of the country's almost 9 million registered voters need to cast ballots for a referendum to be valid.
Recent polls have showed that more than 50 percent will vote "Yes" to legalizing abortion, but a poll released last week said an increasing number of people were planning to abstain, about 21 percent from 16 percent in October.
About 90 percent of Portugal's 10.5 million population is Catholic.


Updated : 2020-12-02 17:49 GMT+08:00