Portugal: Advocates Campaign for Abortion Decriminalization Referendum

Portuguese abortion rights activists have collected over 100,000 signatures to force Parliament to consider a decriminalization referendum that would make abortion legal during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. According to Kaiser, a recent poll stated that nearly 75 percent of people favor a referendum on abortion law and more than 67 percent would vote to relax the current restrictive abortion laws.

Meanwhile, Portuguese attorneys made their final arguments in the trial against seven women accused of having illegal abortions, an alleged abortion provider, and several others who are accused of being accomplices. According to Agence France Presse, a verdict is expected on February 17.

The high-profile trial of these women has led to calls to change Portugal’s highly restrictive laws, which are heavily influenced by the Catholic Church.

Portugal and Ireland are the two countries in the European Union with the most restrictive abortion policies. Abortion is illegal in both except in cases involving rape or when there are serious health concerns.

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Agence France Presse 1/26/04; Kaiser 1/28/04

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