LISBON, Portugal, FEB. 12, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The referendum which aimed to loosen Portugal's abortion law is nonbinding because of lack of voter participation.
Only 43.6% of registered voters went to the polls on Sunday. National law requires 50% for the ballot to be valid.
Still, 59.25% voted yes to relaxing the abortion law, while 40.75% voted no.
Portuguese law allows abortion only in cases of rape, fetal malformation or if the mother's health is in danger. Sunday's referendum aimed to legalize abortion up to the 10th week of pregnancy.
Archbishop Jorge Ortiga, president of the Portuguese episcopal conference, said in statements published by the Ecclesia news agency that the issue of abortion should not be determined with a referendum, since evil cannot become good by majority vote.
Despite the nonbinding referendum, Prime Minister José Sócrates vowed today that "abortion will no longer be a crime" in the first 10 weeks of pregnancy thanks to the victory of "yes" in the referendum.
His Socialist government has an absolute majority in Parliament. He had pledged to change the law through Parliament even before the vote. Portugal is 94% Catholic.