Image: EFE/Mario CruzO ABORTION AND WOMEN'S RIGHTS Until the end of the dictatorial period of the New State the themes of family planning or contraceptive methods were non-existent in public policies as a result of a silencing of women's voices and their rights for centuries.
It is estimated that during the 1970s, the number of illegal abortions exceeded 100,000 per year, resulting in 2% of these cases in the death of women. More than 2,000 women died each year, victims of a policy of silencing and pursuing, with abortion being the third cause of death during these years. Only in the 1976 Constitution, family planning emerges as the competence of the State, configuring the openness to human rights due to so many people in Portugal. Despite this historic advance, the implementation of public policies in this area only advanced in the early 1980s with the first legislative initiatives on sex education and family planning. Thus, for decades, and by the early 2000s, dozens of women were taken to court for illegally aborting or facilitating this practice. Despite the persecution that these women were targeted, there were several feminist movements and activists who put political pressure on human rights justice.The PROCESS After a decades-long struggle, the decriminalization of voluntary termination of pregnancy (IVG) was voted in favor of a referendum held on February 11, 2007. This historical landmark of Portuguese democracy is the result of a long journey of struggles, advances and setbacks. Until 1984 abortion was completely prohibited in Portugal. That year legislation was introduced that allowed voluntary termination of pregnancy only in cases of woman's life-threatening, danger of serious and lasting injury to the physical and psychic health of women, in cases of fetal malformation or when pregnancy had resulted from rapeonly in 1997 an extension of the time limit for interruption in cases of fetal malformation and in situations of "crime against sexual freedom and self-determination of women" was introduced. The first referendum on this matter in 1998 provided for the decriminalisation of voluntary termination of pregnancy if held by the woman's choice in the first ten weeks in authorised health establishments. The results of this referendum, with an abstention rate of 68%. gave an advantage of less than 50,000 votes to the No. It was necessary to wait until 2007 for the same question to be posed again to the Portuguese. This time, "Yes" had an advantage of almost 700,000 votes. Still, this result, which we celebrate today, was not binding, as abstention exceeded 50%, reaching 56%. Despite this, and given the expressiveness of the referendum result, legislation was finally passed that decriminalises the voluntary termination of pregnancy. Law No. 16/2007 allowed the correction of decades of injustice, providing for the realization of IVG in various circumstances. WHERE WE ARE AND WHAT IS TO DOIn 2019 was the lowest number of voluntary terminations of pregnancy in Portugal, with a drop of 28% compared to 2008, the first year in which there is official registration of these figures. But there's still a lot to do. For LIVRE it is urgent to invest in family planning campaigns in schools (in the 3rd cycle of primary and secondary education), working towards a greater articulation between work done in schools and primary health care centers. We also advocate the generalization of sex education in schools, forming and informing in matters ranging from gender equality, to sexual and reproductive rights, and to issues of violence in dating and citizenship education. Information is central to health promotion and ensuring informed choice, essential conditions for ensuring a full and free life.