Seventeen people, including seven women who were accused of undergoing illegal abortions in Portugal, were acquitted yesterday of breaking Portugal's strict abortion laws. According to BBC News, the seven women were accused of voluntarily having abortions at a street clinic in Averio, Portugal. A three-judge panel found no proof that the accused women had undergone the abortions. If the women were found guilty they could have been sentenced to up to three years in jail.
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. Earlier this year, Portuguese abortion rights activists collected over 120,000 signatures to force Parliament to consider a decriminalization referendum that would make abortion legal during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. However, the Prime Minister of Portugal stated that he would only consider holding a referendum if he were elected to a second five-year term, reports Reuters.
According to Reuters, a recent poll conducted by Diario de Noticias/TSF stated that sixty-five percent of Portuguese are in favor of decriminalizing abortion. 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.
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .