In Spain, the Sánchez government wants to consolidate the right to abortion – Liberation

The Spanish government is preparing to present a bill aimed at guaranteeing access to abortion in public hospitals, threatened by the hostile practices of some health structures that invoke “conscientious objection”.

As the United States prepares to dismantle the right to abortion, the Supreme Court’s plan to revisit historic Roe v. Wade leaked to the press, Spain takes the opposite path. Pedro Sánchez’s government is expected to present a bill strengthening access to abortion to the Council of Ministers next week, details of which were revealed Wednesday by several national newspapers. Equal Opportunities Minister Irene Montero announced the broad lines in February, explaining that the “duty” of the government was “work to ensure that all public authorities take action to remove all legal, political, economic or any other obstacles that prevent women’s full access to sexual and reproductive health and rights”.

The main objective of the law is to guarantee all women the possibility of having an abortion in a public health center. Although abortion is legal from 2010 up to 14 weeks of pregnancy, or even 21 in the event of a medical emergency, many Spanish women still face the blockade practiced by doctors calling for “conscientious objection”, particularly in the sector. public . This effectively limits access to care for pregnant women: according to official data, 6,000 of them each year have to go to a province other than their own to find an institution where they can have an abortion. And eight of the country’s fifty provinces have not registered abortions since decriminalization in 1985, such as those of Toledo or Palencia.

The coalition government, in which the socialists of the PSOE and the radical left of Unidas Podemos participate in particular, does not propose to remove “conscientious objection”. However, he would like a register of objectors to be created in each autonomous community, to allow public services to organize themselves and ensure sufficient staff everywhere to carry out abortions. Or the same principle as the one that already applies to euthanasia, authorized in Spain since last year. “Conscientious objection is a constitutional right, which must be guaranteed, but which cannot constitute a barrier or an obstacle to the exercise of women’s rights”, This was explained in February by Irene Montero, minister for two and a half years and former spokesman for Unidas Podemos.

The executive is also evaluating the possibility of allowing girls aged 16 to 18 to have abortions without justifying parental consent, a provision sanctioned by Spanish law in 2010 but then repealed in 2015 by the government of the People’s Party (PP) led by Mariano Rajoy . The topic came back to the fore a few years later when a young man was arrested after throwing his newborn into a river near Barcelona. The press had revealed that the child’s mother, 16, had tried to have an abortion but she, for lack of agreement of the parents to whom she had hidden the pregnancy, she had found herself faced with the refusal of municipal services.

In addition to abortion, the government could insert a series of measures in favor of equality between women and men in the bill, according to Radio Cadena Ser, while Spain is already considered a European model on gender issues and in particular on the fight against violence against women . Granting of three days of leave in case of painful menstruation, abolition of VAT on health protection and free access for women in situations of exclusion and prisoners, free distribution of contraceptive pills in schools at the end of training workshops, sex education … some of the proposals put forward by the executive.

In 2014 the right to abortion was almost abolished by the PP, which had adopted a text in the Council of Ministers that prohibited the use of the procedure except in the event of rape or psychological difficulties for the woman, definitively buried due to popular mobilization and internal divisions to the party. But it continues to suffer the blows of conservative and Catholic circles, sparked by the successes of the far-right party Vox, categorically opposed to abortion. Several organizations of this movement have made themselves known by directly attacking clinics that practice abortions, to the point that nearly 9 out of 10 women said, in a 2018 report, that they felt harassed when they did in such an establishment. And that the majority in power decided to legislate, in the spring, criminalizing “Hinder the exercise of the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy”.

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