Abortion is still against the law in EU states Malta, Ireland, Portugal and Poland, and debate at the human rights organisation the Council of Europe has not produced any recommendation for change in those countries, to promote sexual and reproductive rights and health.
The assembly’s report concludes there are enormous differences between the member states, only some with high standards. Rebecca Gomperts is a pro-choice activist with the group “Women on Waves”. “In Portugal there’s 20,000 illegal abortions done every year and this is causing women to have a 150 times higher risk to die from an abortion than women in the Netherlands. Furthermore, Portugal is the only country in the EU that is actively prosecuting women. Women do travel to Spain but women that to not have the money do not have any other option then to try to invoke an abortion themselves by jumping of the stairs or using knitting needles or going to people that are not trained.” Her Dutch group most recently helped to bring legal abortion out into public discussion in Portugal, and before that in Poland. Abortion was legal in Poland until 1993. Every year since then, according to Women on Waves, between 80,000 and 200,000 Polish women have sought illegal abortion services.