Seven Portuguese women are standing trial for having illegal abortions. Public prosecutors are also charging the doctor for having performing the abortions and nine other people as accomplices, including one of the parents of a woman who had an abortion.
The trial of these women has led to calls to change Portugal’s highly restrictive laws that are heavily influenced by the Catholic Church, reports EU Business. Women’s groups and left-wing party members stood outside of the courthouse in Portugal demanding reform. According to EU Business, the spokesman of the ruling party stated that the government was open to the idea of decriminalizing abortion.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation estimates that up to 20,000 illegal abortions are carried out annually in Portugal. According to IPS News, Portugal and Ireland are the two countries in the European Union with the most restrictive abortion policies. In January 2002, 42 women were put on trial for undergoing illegal abortions, reports EU Business. The nurse who performed the abortions was sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in jail.