Abortion : All about voluntary interruption of pregnancy in Portugal ( Where ? When ? How ? )

Portugal is a country for whom abortion was illegal until 1984. After some minor changes in the law, it was not until 2007, and after a national referendum, that the law included the possibility of voluntary interruption of pregnancy at the request of the Woman. What are the rights of women regarding abortion in Portugal? Where to go and how to practice? Lisbob, the Personal Assistant of those who live in Lisbon and Portugal tells you all about voluntary interruption of pregnancy in Portugal.



A legal frame well defined for voluntary interruption of pregnancy in Portugal

As previously explained, Portugal has only recently expanded the scope of the law on abortion. In summary, under Act No. 16/2007, abortion can currently be practiced in official or officially recognized health facilities, provided that:

    (a) This is the only way to eliminate the danger of death or serious and irreversible injury to the body or the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman;     

    (b) it is indicated to avoid the danger of death or serious and lasting injury to the body or the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman and is practiced during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy;     

    (c) there are safety reasons to provide that the unborn child may suffer from an incurable form of a serious illness or congenital malformation, and is performed in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy, except for non-viable fetal situations, in which case the interruption may be practiced at any time;     

    (d) Pregnancy is the result of a crime against liberty and sexual self-determination and is interrupted for the first sixteen weeks of pregnancy;    

    e) At the woman's option, during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy.

How to practice a voluntary interruption of pregnancy in Portugal ?

Abortion on request of the woman can be carried out since 2007 in the public hospitals as well as in some (rare) Centro de Saude (health centers) of Portugal and private clinics duly recognized and registered by the competent authorities.

Every woman, through her area of residence, has access to a public referral hospital, where she can perform abortion. So the first step is to find out which hospital in your area. For more information about this, call your health center, Linha Saúde 24 (808 24 24 24) or the Sexualidade em Linha da APF / IPDJ (800 222 003). You will have competent people online who will tell you where to go.

Step 1

The abortion process begins with the so-called previous consultation.

Pregnancy termination visits are only legally made by "non-conscientious objector" professionals. If, for any reason, the health professional does not agree with the interruption of pregnancy, he is obliged to inform the woman and immediately inform him of other professionals whom she may contact.

To begin the process, the woman must call the hospital or health center in her area of esidence and request an "interrupção voluntária da gravidez" consultation (voluntary abortion consultation). Some hospitals make it possible to make an appointment without having to go through the health center; in other cases, prior consultation will be required at the health center.

The period between the appointment and the consultation before the abortion can not exceed 5 days and the woman can be alone or choose someone to accompany her in the consultation.

It is a mandatory consultation, where the health professional must clarify all the doubts of the woman and provide the necessary information for free, informed and responsible decision-making.

During this first consultation, the time of pregnancy (by ultrasound) is determined and the various methods of termination of pregnancy are explained. The woman will be able to choose the method she intends to take, even if the decision should be made with the physician, who can evaluate the clinically most appropriate method to the situation. The consultation is also a privileged space for the clarification of contraceptive methods.

During the pre-abortion consultation, the woman receives the free and informed consent form which must be read, signed and delivered during the consultation until the date of the abortion. In the case of women under 16 or women who are psychologically unfit, free and informed consent must be signed by their legal representative (father, mother or guardian).

At the end of the pre-abortion consultation, the second consultation is scheduled for abortion.


2nd step

Between the pre-consultation and the voluntary interruption of pregnancy date, a minimum reflection period of 3 days is required, during which the woman can request psychological support / counseling or an organization or association. This period can be longer if the woman wants it.

The termination of the pregnancy is carried out, the day envisaged, by one of the methods envisaged: surgical or medicinal.

It is only in very special situations that hospitalization is necessary. In most cases, abortion, whether surgical or medical, is performed on an ambulatory basis, without the need for hospitalization.

A medical termination of pregnancy supposes a consultation for the first taking of drugs; the second administration of drugs can be done at home, by the woman or at the health service. Finally, there should be a new consultation about 2 weeks later to check for abortion.

In the case of a surgical termination of pregnancy, taking into account preoperative preparation and procedures, the stay in the health unit usually lasts one morning or one afternoon, although the procedure lasts only a few minutes.

On the day of the abortion, the third appointment, called appointment of control or follow-up, is programmed.


Step 3

About two to three weeks after the end of the pregnancy, a third medical examination must be performed, which is essential if the abortion is successful. It ensures that everything has gone well both physically and psychologically for the woman.

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