Is Abortion legal in Portugal? [Updated: 2023]

Published Categorized as Portugal
Is Abortion legal in Portugal

This post was most recently updated on January 6th, 2023

Women can legally get an abortion in Portugal. However, there is a case where it’s illegal. It’s illegal to abort a child in Portugal if the woman is pregnant for more than ten weeks.

Abortions at later stages are allowed for certain reasons only, such as risk to a woman’s health, rape, and other sexual crimes. The restrictions become stricter at 12, 16, and 24 weeks.

Abortion can be performed up to the 16th week were to continue the pregnancy would represent “a crime against the woman’s freedom and sexual self-determination” and up to the 24th week in cases of severe disease of the fetus or congenital malformation.

History of Abortion in Portugal

History of Abortion in Portugal

In 1984, for the first time, abortion law in Portugal came to people’s attention. Before that, abortion was totally illegal in Portugal.

Illegal abortion provision was a matter of silence until then and was treated as a ‘‘black market’’ issue rather than as a health issue.

A national referendum was held in 1998 on the question of decriminalization of voluntary termination of pregnancy. The result was 50.9% against and 49.1% in favor.

Abstention exceeded 50% (only 31.9% of the country’s registered voters participated), which made the referendum non-binding.

A second referendum was held in 2007 on the decriminalization of abortion at the woman’s request, and the pro-choice movement won with 59.3% of the votes (43.6% of the electorate participated). Based on this result, voluntary abortion was no longer illegal when performed up to the 10th gestational week in official or officially accredited health services.

Finally, on April 10, 2007 abortion laws in Portugal were standardized. However, there is no information on the absolute number of abortions performed at the woman’s request before 2007.

Post Abortion legalization

In 2015, a petition created by a citizen’s group called Direito a Nascer (Right to be Born) and signed by about 50,000 people suggested multiple changes to the law, including the end of the medical payment exemption for abortion and the requirement that women first sign an echogram before being allowed to abort.

Number of Abortions

Number of legal Abortions in Portugal

Since its legalization in 2007, the number of legal abortions initially increased, from 18,607 in 2007 to 20,480 in 2011, but has since steadily decreased, down to 15,492 in 2017. About two-thirds of all abortions currently occur in women aged between 20 and 34.

Where to get an abortion in Portugal?

Most abortions are performed in the National Health Service, the Serviço Nacional de Saúde (SNS). The first step is to determine which is the closest hospital to your residence.

Medical abortion is the most common form of terminating pregnancy and is currently practiced in around 70% of cases.

For more information, you can contact the following numbers:

Health center: Linha Saúde 24 (808242424)

Sexualidade em Linha da APF/IPDJ (800222003)

How much does an abortion cost in Portugal?

It is free to abort a child in Portugal, up to ten weeks into the pregnancy. The state pays for your abortion. Foreign women that reside in Portugal also have access to free abortion care.

A step-by-step guide to having an abortion in Portugal

First, you will need to have a pre-abortion consultation, followed by the abortion procedure, and then a check-up two or three weeks after the abortion has taken place.

Pre-abortion consultation

Pre-abortion consultation in Portugal

Abortion is legal only when the pregnancy is confirmed by a certified professional. To begin the process, the woman will need to call the hospital or health center that is closest to her home address and request a voluntary abortion consultation. Sometimes you don’t even need to visit the health center.

The time between the appointment and the consultation before the abortion is carried out cannot exceed five days.

It is a mandatory consultation, where the health professional will need to clarify any doubts that the woman has and provide her with the relevant information so that she can make an informed and responsible decision. This information is free.

During this consultation, the time of pregnancy is determined by ultrasound. Then the certified professional will explain various methods of abortion. The woman will be given a free and informed consent form, which she will need to read, sign, and deliver before the date the abortion procedure is to be carried out.

If the woman is under the age of 16, then her legal guardian has to sign the consent form.

Abortion Procedure

Abortion Procedure in Portugal

There are two kinds of abortion procedures performed in Portugal. One is Medicinal abortion and another is Surgical abortion. Medicinal abortion procedures are the most common in Portugal, accounting for around 70% of cases.

Medicinal Abortion:

The woman is provided with the abortion medicinal drugs, and she has to take them for around 2 weeks.

Surgical Abortion:

Abortion is done by performing surgery. The surgery might take a couple of hours to complete.

After two or three weeks after the abortion, you will have a third medical examination. This ensures that everything has gone well for the woman, both physically and psychologically.


Since the introduction of the new legal provisions in 2007, there have been significant decreases in maternal mortality, in the overall number of complications in general and specifically in serious complications from illegal and unsafe abortions.

Even though abortion is completely legal and safe in Portugal, some people are still against it. They think that abortion is a sin and shouldn’t be performed.

What do you think? Let me know in the comment section below.

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