Louise Livesey // 17 April 2007
Following on from yesterday’s news of a defeat (if only just) to Polish moves to enshrine a ban on abortion in their Constitution today there is news that Portugal has legalised abortion up until the 10th week.
The legislation was the result of a referendum on Friday that overwhelmingly favored the legalization of abortion. Although Cavasco Silva consented to the new law, he stated that he believes that all women who are seeking to have the procedure should be shown an ultrasound of the fetus, they should be informed about the option of adoption, and be educated about the possible and psychological consequences of an abortion. Feminist News
But despite his personal views all women have to go through is a three day reflection period (a much shorter wait than we have currently on the NHS in the UK). Previously, Portugal had one of the most restrictive abortion codes (except for, of course, Poland) which allowed abortion only if the mother’s health was a risk and it was before the end of the first trimester or if conception was due to rape and it was before 16 weeks.
The Portuguese government hopes that this new law will prevent dangerous illegal abortions, which have killed and seriously injured over 10,000 Portuguese women each year. Feminist News
Elsewhere, Eritrea has announced a ban on all forms of female genital mutilation as of the end of March. Mandatory jail sentences are to be enforced not just for mutilators themselves but those who provide tools, those who request the procedure and anyone who fails to report a case of FGM.
Of course in both cases legally enshrining women’s rights won’t guarantee their implementation in everyday life. But it’s a start. And perhaps one which will change culture in Eritrea and represents and ongoing change of culture in Portugal.