The Portuguese government plans to liberalise the country's abortion law, following a weekend referendum on the issue. The election failed to attract the quorum required for a binding vote. Of those who did vote, 59.3 per cent wanted to lift the abortion ban and 40.8 per cent to keep it. Currently abortion is only available in the case of rape, threat to the life of the mother or very severe disability. Portugal's ruling Socialist government said it now plans to use its parliamentary majority to legalise abortion on demand during the first ten weeks of pregnancy. Socialist Prime Minister Jose Socrates said the outcome was in favour of lifting the ban, despite the turnout and pleas from the Catholic Church to keep restrictions in place. "The people spoke with a clear voice," Mr Socrates said in a televised speech. "The law will now be discussed and approved in Parliament. Our interest is to fight clandestine abortion and we have to produce a law that respects the result of the referendum," he said.
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