A twenty-two year old woman in Portugal was acquitted on Monday (29 October) on charges connected with having an abortion.
A twenty-two year old woman in Portugal was acquitted on Monday (29 October) on charges connected with having an abortion. Legal sources said that the case was seen as a test for the abortion laws in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. A pro-abortion campaign plans to publish the names of the three thousand women in Portugal who admit to having undergone an abortion, to force a debate on the anti-abortion law.
SYNOPSIS: The pro-abortion demonstrators stood outside the Central Lisbon Courthouse shouting their support. Inside, the courtroom was packed.
The defendant was twenty-two year old Conceicao Massano, who faced two-to-eight years in prison for having an abortion three years ago.
Mrs Massano came to trial after her diary was stolen and sent to the authorities. At one point, the demonstrators, organised by the Portuguese National Campaign for Abortion, surged towards the door. Riot police from inside streamed out into the steps. In the scuffle, four women were injured, none seriously. The trial was expected to last three weeks, when suddenly after only four hours, it was over. The court had ruled an acquittal, saying the charge had not been proved.
The National Campaign still wants to draw attention to Portugal's abortion laws. The current law dates back to the nineteenth century. Despite its strict penalties, some one hundred and eighty thousand women are reputed to have illegal abortions in Portugal each year.