Controversy as Portugal threatens to cut bonuses for doctors who carry out abortions

Portugal could withdraw pay bonuses for doctors who perform abortions

A controversial new proposal could mean that doctors in Portugal who carry out abortions lose certain benefits.

Abortion has been decriminalised in Portugal up to 10 weeks of gestation since 2008, after being approved in a referendum a year earlier.

Portuguese doctors could get lower pay bonuses for having patients who undergo a voluntary termination of pregnancy or contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The proposal is in the hands of the Ministry of Health and has sparked controversy in the country.

The proposal, which introduces new evaluation criteria for calculating the salary bonuses of doctors at certain types of health centres, was published exclusively in the Portuguese daily national newspaper Público on Tuesday, May 10.

According to the newspaper, it has already been validated by the Directorate-General of Health (DGS) and is now in the hands of the Ministry of Health.

The Minister of Health, Marta Temido, said that the criteria “have a specific context” and “do not penalise patients or doctors.”

“We are talking about something that has to be seen in context. This is a dimension that is called family planning and the issue is the accompaniment of women of childbearing age,” said Temido to justify why men with STDs are not included.

Temido said that women’s personal choices are not being questioned, nor are abortions being judged.

The proposal has generated controversy in the country, where both doctors’ associations and women’s associations have criticised the criteria being considered.

The National Federation of Doctors (FNAM) has complained that monitoring sexually transmitted diseases in women, without doing so in men, “constitutes unacceptable gender discrimination”.

In a statement, the organisation announced that it had referred the situation to the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality, saying that these criteria reflect “a patriarchal vision of sexuality, which presents the idea that venereal diseases are women’s problems”.

The National Association of Family Health Units has also admitted that the proposal could lead to doctors pressuring patients to not choose to have an abortion.

Abortion up to the tenth week of pregnancy has been decriminalised in Portugal since 2008, after being approved in a referendum a year earlier.


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Written by

Tamsin Brown

Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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