Portugal’s Yes

I was on the phone with mom earlier this evening and I asked if she’d heard about the results of the referendum. “NO I haven’t!” she said.

Portugal held a referendum yesterday on the question of abortion. While I was there in December I did see a scattered few billboards in Lisbon urging either a YES to legalize abortion or NO to keep abortion illegal. While I did get to ask a few people about it, i don’t remember much conversation on the topic, but I was definitely watching the results come in last night as Im sure many of my Portuguese friends were.

The result is that the Yes vote got 59% of the vote. A very loud statement that the voting citizenry of the nation were tired of seeing women being incarcerated for seeking abortions or fleeing to other countries in order to get one. Unfortunately less than 50 percent of elligible voters actually turned out, which I believe doesn’t make the referendum fully binding… but it looks like this will provide the necessary push for lawmakers to change the law.

I watched the annoying coverage on CNN last night; its Portugal so you can’t expect more than 2 minutes with 30 seconds of video… cut to commercial for Dubai or some other wealthy play ground apparently Im supposed to consider visiting based on their ads.

The graphic under the brief video read “most of Portugal is catholic.” I read the graphic and kept thinking… GREAT. They should have added a graphic, “Portugal may have citizens who think for themselves and don’t look to the vatican for instructions on how to run a country.” I realize many do look to the vatican, but I still think the graphic and the image that Portuguese are so completely tethered to religion is a somewhat out-dated assumption. Somebody get me the church attendance numbers.

All in all, an interesting milestone in the history of Portugal as the nation evolves and democracy matures. If you accept that this is how a democracy matures; declining voter turn out, struggle with religious traditions… sounds fairly typical.

Stay tuned for a podcast related to this topic in the coming week, as I just realized Women on Waves is in my neck of the woods.