Portugal's parliament on Wednesday voted to hold a referendum to decriminalize abortion during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. For the referendum to be accepted, not only must it gain a majority of votes, but also more than half of the nationís registered voters must cast a ballot. A date for the poll has not yet been set. This is the second Portuguese abortion referendum to come to a vote. The first, in 1998, was defeated by a narrow margin of 51 to 49 percent, and voter turnout was low.
Portugal is one of the few countries in Europe that bans abortions, except in instances where the motherís life or health is in danger, the fetus is malformed, or the mother was raped. The country has an estimated annual rate of about 700 legal abortions and 20,000 to 40,000 illegal abortions, according to Reuters. A woman convicted of receiving an illegal abortion faces a jail sentence of up to three years.
Women on Waves traveled to Portugal in 2004 to bring attention to the nationís punitive abortion policies. Though the ship was never allowed to enter Portuguese waters Ė in fact, it was blocked by Portugalís Navy Ė the trip succeeded renewing the debate in Portugal about the countryís restrictive abortion policies. A poll conducted shortly after the trip found that three in five voters in Portugal wanted to liberalize Portugalís abortion laws and nearly 77 percent wanted to hold a new referendum on abortion. The Feminist Majority Foundation traveled with Women on Waves to Portugal to provide security assistance.
10/31/2014 Federal Judge Exempts Another Catholic University from Birth Control Coverage - A federal judge ruled Tuesday that Ave Maria University, a Catholic university in Florida, does not have to comply with federal rules meant to ensure that covered employees can exercise their right to obtain birth control at no cost.
The Affordable Care Act requires all new health insurance plans to cover all FDA-approved contraceptives - such as the pill, emergency contraceptives, and IUDs - without charging co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance. . . .
10/31/2014 Women of Color in Tennessee Are United in Opposition to Amendment 1 - Just days before the general election in Tennessee, a coalition of community leaders, clergy, and advocates led a press conference encouraging women of color to vote no on Amendment 1, a dangerous and far-reaching measure on the state's ballot.
SisterReach, a grassroots organization focused on "empowering, organizing, and mobilizing women and girls in the community around their reproductive and sexual health to make informed decisions about themselves," organized the press conference "to call attention to the unique concerns Black and poor communities throughout Shelby County and across the state of Tennessee face on a daily basis" and to emphasize how the upcoming election "could further limit [black women's] reproductive, economic, political, and social autonomy."
"We assemble today to impress upon black women and women of color, many of whom are heads of households, to get out and vote," said SisterReacher Founder and CEO Cherisse Scott at the event.
SisterReach has been educating voters about the particularly dangerous impact of Amendment 1 on women of color. . . .
10/30/2014 Medication Abortion Access Threatened by Oklahoma Court Ruling - An Oklahoma state district court judge has refused to block a state law restricting medication abortion, clearing the way for the law to go into affect on November 1.
The Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, together with a local abortion clinic in Tulsa, challenged HB 2684 in September, arguing that the law was an unconstitutional restriction on non-surgical abortion in the earliest weeks of pregnancy. . . .