Portuguese Trade and Tourism Office
54 Dawson St. Monday January 21, 18.00
The Alliance for a NO vote is calling a protest on Monday January 21 at the Portuguese Trade and Tourism Office. The protest is to show our solidarity with Sandra Cardoso, the 21 year old woman who was convicted on Friday of having an abortion in an illegal clinic in Portugal. Sandra has been ordered to pay a fine or spend four months in prison, even though she pleaded that extreme poverty, the violence of her partner and her daughter 's sickness had driven her to seek out the clandestine clinic.
A petition backing the 17 women and calling for "an end to the harsh punishment and criminalisation" of abortion has been signed by 1,200 notable figures from 42 countries, including the US linguist Noam Chomsky and the German actress Hanna Schygulla. The ANV will be collecting signatures for the petition here in Ireland.
Press statement: January 20, 2002 Immediate release
The mass trial in Portugal of 17 women accused of having abortions, of the nurse who performed them, and of 25 other people who assisted in the getting of abortions is a foretaste of what could happen in Ireland if the Government' s referendum succeeds. The Fianna Fáil PD proposals would make Irish law more draconian than current Portuguese law. Even though the 17 women were not given jail sentences, they were publicly dragged through the Courts and put in fear of imprisonment. Over the past year, eight other women - all poor - were given suspended sentences for abortion.
Commenting on the Portuguese trial, Cathleen O'Neill said:
"The trial in Portugal shows what could happen in Ireland if the referendum proposals from Ahern, Harney and McDowell go through. A law that makes abortion a criminal offence will be used in the Irish Courts. The Portuguese trial will also increase the risks to the lives of Irish women when complications during pregnancy require terminations. Having seen what can happen elsewhere, doctors here will be wary of falling foul of the proposed Irish law - which only allows legal abortion when there is a risk of the loss of the woman's life."
Estimates indicate that up to 40,000 women use clandestine abortion clinics in Portugal every year. Women have died after illegal abortions, many have become seriously ill, and there is evidence that pregnancy is a significant factor in adolescent suicides. The ANV supports the international call "for an end to the harsh punishment and criminalisation of abortion" in Portugal where the legal regime is the cause of much suffering.
The ANV calls on the Government to drop the abortion referendum, and to begin a serious discussion on the provision of abortion services in Ireland.