In most European countries over the past ten years, there has been a general trend towards liberating abortion laws.
ROME 1875: GV PAN Demonstrators in square SCU photographer, PAN TO speaker on rostrum.
SV AND Cus: women and children (3 shots)
SCU: Woman gesturing.
LISBON, 1979: SV Demonstrators with placards, GV police disperse crowd
LONDON, 1975: GV PAN Anti-abortion march, SV PAN people with wreaths and numbers of abortions per year GV march
CHICAGO, 1979: GV ZOO IN: Pope John Paul II speaking from vehicle, GV audience PAN TO Pope
NEW DELHI, 1979: SV Mother Teresa through doorway garlanded
JERUSALEM, 1979: TGV Knesset PAN FROM speaker on dais TO members
TV: Speaker on rostrum, TV members listening to debate
TV: President reads result, TV Opposition members applauding
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Background: In most European countries over the past ten years, there has been a general trend towards liberating abortion laws. But the issue has raised and continues to raise, strong feelings, largely on religious and moral grounds. In Israel this week, political debate on abortion threatened to bring down government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
SYNOPSIS: Italy, a largely Roman Catholic country, legalised abortions, under certain conditions, in May last year For years before this law, hundreds of thousands of Italians, mostly women, had demonstrated to make abortion legal. A referendum in 1974 showed support for abortion by three to two. But Italian women wanting an abortion still faced problem - most doctors refuse to do the operation, mostly on religious grounds.
In Portugal, another predominantly Roman Catholic country, the trial in October of a woman on charges of having a criminal abortion led to violence between demonstrators and police. The woman was acquitted, boosting the campaign there to legalise abortion.
In the United Kingdom abortion has been legalised, in certain circumstances, for more than eleven years. This 1975 demonstration though , was by people opposing abortion. The debate continues, with pro-abortionists opposing a recent move to restrict abortions to the first twenty weeks of pregnancy.
The Roman Catholic Church's attitude to abortion remains unchanged....and Pope John Paul the Second this year has reaffirmed that there will be no softening in the Church's stand against abortion on moral grounds. In Europe, Roman Catholic doctors, politicians and laymen have and still do, provide the strongest opposition to abortion.
This year's winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa, has also spoken out against abortion. A Roman Catholic nun, she has said it is the root of evil and suffering in the world, and described abortion as murder in the mother's womb.
In Israel, religious opposition to widening the grounds for an abortion almost toppled the coalition government. A vote last month on a amendment to Israel's abortion law ended in the government defeat. On Monday (17 December) the amendment, with changes forced by a minority religious party in the government coalition, was approved by five votes. Prime Minister Begin had said the second vote would be one of confidence in his government, raising speculation that, if defeated, he would have had to resign. For many observers the Israeli debate highlighted the often fierce views on abortion, views which in much of Europe continue to be argued.