[JURIST] Voters in Portugal could go to the polls in January 2007 to vote in a referendum on the legalization of abortion [JURIST news archive] after the ruling Socialist Party [party website, in Portuguese] made the proposal [press release, in Portuguese] on Friday. A party spokesperson stated that current legislation that bans abortions [text, in Portuguese] is "socially unjust." The opposition Christian Democrats, however, plan to fight to keep abortion illegal "as a matter of principle."
The proposed referendum could legalize abortion during the first ten weeks of pregnancy. Portugal last voted on a similar referendum in 1998, when a small majority voted to keep abortion illegal. The Portuguese government attempted to hold another referendum in November 2005, but the country's constitutional court blocked [BBC report] that because President Jorge Sampaio had rejected the option earlier in that legislative session on grounds that not enough people were likely to vote. EuroNews has more.