“Referendum on Sunday, working group on Monday”: A success story of implementing abortion services after legalization in Portugal

Bianca M. Stifani, Duarte Vilar, Lisa Vicente

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

A 2007 referendum legalized abortion in Portugal. Physicians played an important role advocating for legal reform and providing services thereafter. Implementers relied on a strong public health system with many gynecologists who required minimal training, and took decisions that allowed for rapid implementation. First, they emphasized medical abortion and integrated abortion into existing hospital obstetrics and gynecologic services, where eventual complications could be managed. They also offered immediate postabortion contraception, helping prevent criticism from abortion opponents who feared women would obtain multiple repeat abortions. Finally, they established referral networks guaranteeing access despite conscientious objection. Media campaigns were not needed as Portuguese women had good access to information. Portugal's success is largely due to key facilitators within a working group established by the Ministry of Health to implement the new law. Remaining challenges are the lack of choice between medical and surgical abortion, and some regions with relatively difficult geographic access to services.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-37
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics
Volume143
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Advocacy
  • Implementation
  • Legalization
  • Medication abortion
  • Portugal
  • Public health
  • Referrals
  • Safe abortion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology

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