Update 23 September: The restrictive abortion law is dead, and the minister responsible, Catholic conservative Gallardon, has now resigned. Some will see it as a victory for women and choice; others will applaud the “democratic response to popular demand”; others, however, will see it as blatant political expediency in dumping a law that caused outrage in its attempt to drag Spain back to the 19th century. Vote, it seems, might matter more than any woman’s rights.
Update 13 July 2014: In response to the new abortion law Spain is introducing, unique in Europe for its restrictions on women’s reproductive rights, a new pressure group is being formed to enable women in Spain to terminate their pregnancies abroad. The Red Federica Montseny (link HERE) say that they would prefer not to have to have done this, but consider it a necessary response to the “aggression of the new abortion law”. The idea is simple, they say: if the government puts too many obstacles for women who want an abortion, they will be forced to do it in another country.
The new web page run by volunteers is being finalized and will be submitted next week. It will provide information about abortion in countries where there are collaborators for the scheme. For now, the network covers Berlin, Brussels, Lisbon, London and Vienna. Paris, Bordeaux and Stuttgart have shown interest in joining the project. It seems to me quite ironic that a policy move that takes Spain back to the 19th century will be undermined, perhaps fatally, by internet technology of the 21st.
Update 20 December 2013: As you’ll see the last post, below, was dated July 2010. What you won’t see, because I’ve edited it, is that the title was “Abortion on demand available for all women over 16 in Spain from today”. That is no longer the case. Now we have a conservative government, and a new abortion law has just been approved. A tough one.
Under the new law, the seemingly personal campaign of Justice minister Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, abortion is only allowed in cases of rape or threat to mother’s health. Previously women could have abortions on demand up to 14 weeks’ gestation, and up to 22 weeks if serious deformations had been detected in the foetus. Sr Ruiz-Gallardón denied that women would be criminalized for seeking abortions – as had been the case before Zapatero’s socialist reform of the legislation – and said that his new law would defend both the life of the unborn and women’s rights. Some women might find that claim a bit hard to process …
The new law will now work its way through parliament where the government’s majority makes it almost impossible that it will face any problems.
Update 5 July 2010: The new abortion law comes into force today. It has been challenged and opposed several times in the Constitutional Court since last September but from today, 25 years after the first abortion legislation in Spain, abortion is to all intents and purposes freely available on demand to all women over the age of 16. C24H
Original post 26 September 2009: It has been a controversial and tortuous process, opposed by Church, conservative party, pro-life groups, et al, but at last the abortion law reforms have been passed by the Spanish cabinet. Abortion will be free and on demand for any woman over 16 up to week 14 of pregnancy, and up to 22 weeks of gestation in cases where the life or health of the mother is jeopardized, or where serious abnormalities have been detected in the foetus. In this latter case, two doctors must agree that an abortion is to be provided.
No doctor need give permission for abortions under 14 weeks, however. These are to be truly “on demand”. The only proviso is that the mother has received, at least three days before the abortion, information about the rights and availability of help she would receive should she decide to continue with the pregnancy. The socialists are really proud of this legislation, which will bring them into line, they say, with enlightened policies elsewhere throughout Europe. El Dia