Editor's Note: Today we welcome Rupert Walder, writing from the United Kingdom. He has experience with reproductive health, women's rights and HIV/AIDS prevention and will be covering these issues throughout Europe.
The Cyprus Government recently announced measures that might include paying couples who have three or more children as much as $45,000 in an attempt to reverse the country's declining population. Over the last decade, similar proposals for birth incentives have been made in other European countries—including Italy, which has one of the world's lowest fertility rates. Is this a progressive approach to a (very real) problem? Or is it population control back to haunt us in another guise.
Marcy Bloom does U.S. advocacy and capacity building for GIRE – El Grupo de Informacion en Reproduccion Elegida/The Information Group on Reproductive Choice.
[img_assist|nid=1642|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=99|height=100]Over the years I have contemplated and written about the critical importance of destigmatizing abortion in US culture. That mission has now expanded to the international realm. So, when I discovered a 2005 document from the Polish Federation for Women and Family Planning, "Contemporary Women's Hell: Polish Women's Stories," I was intrigued.
A sad and tragic title, but one that all too accurately describes the current painful abortion situation in Poland, as well as in far too many parts of the world.
It's official: on February 11, 2007, Portuguese citizens will vote on whether or not to make abortion legal without restriction within the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Portugal is one of the few countries in Europe where abortion is illegal under most circumstances; currently, the procedure is legally available only in cases where a pregnant woman's life is at risk, or during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy in cases of rape or fetal malformation. Despite the restrictive laws, tens of thousands of Portuguese women seek illegal, unsafe abortions every year, and pro-choice organizations estimate that some 10,000 of them wind up in the hospital with complications. Worse, women who seek unsafe abortions face harsh prison sentences, and are subjected to the additional trauma of having their sentence read out loud during public and often televised trials. Inter Press Service has an excellent analysis of the current situation here.