The head of Portugal’s national health directorate Francisco George, who is set to retire at the end of this month after a 44-year career at the service of the country’s health system, said this proves the country’s abortion laws are a success.
Abortion was made legal in Portugal following a national referendum in 2007. The most recent figures from 2015 show that that year, abortions were at their lowest since 2008, the first full year in which voluntary abortions were legal.
“The IGV [voluntary abortion law] was a success, a big success. Over the years we have analysed data and we see that, every year there are fewer abortions than the year before. That number has gone down and it is a sharp drop. We now have 15 percent fewer abortions than when we started and 15 percent is important”, Francisco George said in comments to Lusa News Agency this week.
Following the 2007 national referendum a law was introduced that allows women in Portugal to voluntarily terminate pregnancies of up to 10 weeks in a properly licensed establishment certified to perform the procedure.
Prior to that abortion was a punishable crime.
“[Abortion] was a problem for Portuguese society. Terminations were made without appropriate conditions of hygiene or dignity for the woman. The recognition of this right [the IVG] has improved the health conditions for women”, the director general of Health said.
George stressed that Portugal’s emergency wards no longer have to deal with “cases of women with ruptured organs, such as the vagina and uterus, resulting from poorly performed abortions that are no longer available.”
“We have a successful program here”, he concluded, reinforcing the annual reduction of abortions at women’s request.