Barriers to Access to Abortion for Migrant Women in Spain

Barriers to Access to Abortion for Migrant Women in Spain

April 11, 2019

Spain has a law limiting access to public healthcare services for migrants with irregular immigration status
Advocacy groups condemn the restriction, which undermines the sexual and reproductive rights, including abortion rights, of migrant women

Madrid, 11 April 2019 – The international organization Women’s Link Worldwide and the Commission for the Investigation of Violence Against Women have filed a complaint with the Spanish Office of the Ombudsman detailing the cases of six migrant women with irregular immigration status whose access to abortion was delayed by the Madrid public health system. The women were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, or otherwise at risk.


It’s time for the Philippines to decriminalize abortion

It’s time for the Philippines to decriminalize abortion
Most of the women who are hospitalized and die from complications from unsafe abortion are poor, Roman Catholics, married, with at least 3 children, and have at least a high school education

Clara Rita Padilla
June 01, 2018

Last May 25, in a historic referendum, Ireland paved the way to increase access to abortion. The Irish citizens who voted to repeal the 8th amendment to the Constitution providing equal protection to the life of the woman and the unborn have won. This is great news for Irish women and for women living in restrictive abortion laws.

Finally, the overwhelming vote of 66.4% to repeal the 8th amendment is in line with women’s right to health. It clearly manifests respect for women’s right to decide and a significant step to save women’s lives and freedom from disability that result from denial of access to safe and legal abortion.


The doctor who brought abortion out of the shadows in Ireland

The doctor who brought abortion out of the shadows in Ireland
Rebecca Gomperts helps women who can’t terminate pregnancies under the law.

by Jillian Deutsch

AMSTERDAM — Abortion may be illegal in Ireland, but it is already a reality for thousands of women in the country because of packets of pills openly smuggled in by a Dutch doctor and activist called Rebecca Gomperts.

So as Ireland gets ready to hold a referendum on May 25 on whether to legalize the termination of pregnancies in one of the last European countries to ban it, there is already broad consensus among the country’s politicians that it’s time to bring abortion out of the shadows.


Gibraltar – part of the UK but like Northern Ireland, excluded from Britain’s abortion law

Gibraltar – part of the UK but like Northern Ireland, excluded from Britain’s abortion law
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
March 13, 2018

Gibraltar is a peninsula hanging off the edge of Spain, separated from Spain by an airport runway, belonging to the UK but excluded from British abortion law. Gibraltar is governed by a 2011 law that is based on the 1861 Offences against the Person Act, which calls for life imprisonment for anyone seeking an abortion or anyone aiding someone else to do so.

Two women’s groups have recently become active in Gibraltar as regards abortion. The Gibraltar Women’s Association believes it is time to change the law. They say they know of many women who have suffered physical and mental health problems after being forced to travel to Spain for “poor quality operations”. When the women return home, they keep what they did secret and don’t seek further medical care for fear that news of their abortion will spread. The Association says the situation is forcing many women to travel to Spain or have backstreet abortions in Gibraltar. Women who are unable to obtain a visa to travel to Spain, such as migrants or refugees, are particularly vulnerable, says the Association’s spokeswoman, Anne-Marie Struggles.


Council of Europe warns on backlash to abortion access

Council of Europe warns on backlash to abortion access

By Caterina Tani
BRUSSELS, Dec 6, 2017

A backlash against access to abortion in some EU member states in the past few years is "deeply troubling", the Council of Europe warned on Tuesday (5 December).

In the majority of EU countries abortions are legal, but in some states a wave of "retrogressive restrictions" are threatening women's health and well-being, the European human rights organisation's report said.

Continued at source:

SPAIN – Setbacks for abortion and family planning in Madrid

SPAIN – Setbacks for abortion and family planning in Madrid
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Dec 5, 2017

The Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid has published an “Integrated plan for the consideration of unwanted pregnancies in the Community of Madrid 2017-2010” in which they propose to prioritise the use of medical abortion over the use of vacuum aspiration for abortion because it “causes the least personal, economic and social impact”. ACAI (Assocation of Accredited Abortion Clinics) says medical professionals who provide abortions were not consulted before this document was released on 13 November 2017. ACAI contests the plan and instead calls for both quality of care and a guarantee of freedom of choice for women between the two methods, and the importance of training medical professionals in using both methods.

Secondly, in a case that stretches back to last year and before, the High Court in Spain has rejected the appeal by the Spanish Federation of Family Planning (FPFE) against the decision of the Ministry of the Interior to revoke the FPFE’s declaration of public utility at the request of the right-wing, anti-abortion Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers.

Continued at source:

Dutch ‘abortion boat’ arrives off the coast of Mexico

Dutch 'abortion boat' arrives off the coast of Mexico
April 21, 2017

Women on Waves says it is offering free, legal, medical abortions till nine weeks of pregnancy in international waters.

Women on Waves has visited waters off Guatemala, Ireland, Morocco, Poland, Portugal and Spain [File: Reuters]

A Dutch sailing boat offering abortions has arrived in international waters off Mexico's west coast, according to the organisation which operates it.

The vessel, which operates often in defiance of some countries' laws, took up position on Friday off Guerrero state on Mexico's southern Pacific coast.

Women on Waves, a non-profit group, said in an online statement that it was offering "free legal medical abortions till nine weeks of pregnancy" to women who needed them. It said its ship "has all required permits" and would receive women until Sunday.

Continued at link: Al Jazeera:

Women’s Link sues the health department of the Region of Murcia, Spain, for violating the right to a dignified abortion

Women’s Link sues the health department of the Region of Murcia, Spain, for violating the right to a dignified abortion

The organization is representing Ana, a woman who was denied information regarding her fetus’s condition by the health department, and so was prevented from accessing abortion services in a dignified manner.

On International Women's Day, March 8, Women’s Link is demanding access to a safe, legal and dignified abortion for all women in Spain

Country: Spain Date: 07/03/2017

Madrid, March 7, 2017 – Women’s Link is suing the health department of the Region of Murcia, Spain, for violating the rights of their client Ana (not her real name), a woman who was denied information on the serious condition affecting her fetus for almost six weeks. Due to this violation of her right to information, as well as the discrimination she faced in the Santa Lucía de Cartagena Public Hospital in Murcia, she was not able to access abortion services in a dignified way, and as a result suffered serious physical and psychological harm.

Continued at source: Women's Link Worldwide:

A story from Spain: “The doctors’ right to object nearly cost me my life”

Nov 25, 2016
by Safe Abortion

The health system in Galicia, northwest Spain, was ordered to compensate a woman who lost her uterus after a hospital refused to do an abortion as an emergency obstetric procedure and sent her 354 miles to Madrid, so that she nearly lost her life. The events happened four years ago. The woman learned that the fetus she was carrying had an anomaly incompatible with life only seven months into her pregnancy, due to errors during antenatal diagnosis.

She was then unable to find anyone who would terminate the pregnancy, either in her own town in Galicia or in any of Galicia’s other public hospitals. Eventually, the Galician public health service, SERGAS, declared that “in order to respect the professionals’ right to objection on moral grounds”, the authorities would pay for termination of the pregnancy in a private clinic in Madrid, by which time she was into her 32nd week of pregnancy.

She had to make the trip by car with her partner. She had been having vaginal pains for some days but was told by the hospital it was just wind. In fact, the pain was due to an irregularity in her uterus, affected by the pregnancy. By the time she arrived at the clinic in Madrid, she was bleeding heavily and had to be transferred to a hospital for an emergency caesarean section to remove the fetus, which died soon after. Her uterus had to be removed to stop the bleeding, so now she is unable to have any more children.

The Galician public health service has been ordered to pay out €270,000 in compensation for negligence. This negligence has caused “physical and psychological damage for which there is no compensation”, according to the magistrate who ordered the payment. The woman has been receiving counselling since her loss. Following the court’s decision, the President of Galicia made a public apology to Paula – not her real name – on behalf of the authorities, while declaring he would looking for a formula that would reconcile the right of Galician women to an abortion with doctors’ rights to object on moral grounds to carrying out an abortion.

Paula’s lawyer, Francisca Fernández, says that her client’s case is by no means an isolated one. She has been involved in two other cases where women are suing the public health services in Galicia on account on consequences of conscientious objection. Objection to performing an abortion on moral grounds is covered by Spain’s 2010 abortion law (Article 19.2) but only as long as it does not affect the patient’s access to care. The 2010 law also says that the termination of pregnancies due to fetal anomaly or incurable illness should preferably be carried out in public health service centres as they are more complicated and often required in later pregnancy.

Yet a report entitled Deficiencias e inequidad en los servicios de salud sexual y reproductiva en España” compiled by 13 organizations and published by Médicos del Mundo, highlights that in 2014, not one abortion was carried out in public hospitals in Aragon, Extremadura, Castile-La Mancha and Murcia: all were referred to private clinics.

The President of the National Federation of Family Planning (FPFE), Luis Enrique Sánchez, believes that one of the main reasons that some public hospitals don’t carry out abortions is that the health authorities have not insisted on it as an obligation, allowing gynaecological units to dodge the issue, citing organizational difficulties, a shortage of surgeons or other resources for doing so. “It’s a lack of political will from those in charge of health,” says Sánchez.

SOURCE: El País (English version), by Cristina Huete (translation Heather Galloway), 9 November 2016 ; PHOTO, Getty Images (segment), Madrid, 2013

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion

Spain: Magistrate’s court dismisses anti-abortion case due to lack of evidence

by Safe Abortion, Nov 11, 2016

La Asociación de Abogados Cristianos (Christian Lawyers Association), an anti-abortion group, failed to provide evidence in court to support its accusations against four abortion clinics in Madrid in September this year. The group accused the clinics of having thrown away health information about their patients that could have violated confidentiality, of breaching the rules of disposal of biomedical waste, and of fiscal offences. The Magistrate’s Court ruled that they had provided no solid evidence to justfy proceeding with a case.

Jose Antonio Bosch, who represented the Association of Abortion Clinics (ACAI), argued that this group were abusing the criminal justice system just to get headlines in the press. He accused Juan Francisco Sánchez Galera, of being an “anti-abortion jihadi, rooting around the clinics’ rubbish bins” for something that didn’t exist. This person had filed the initial accusations with the police, which Bosch described as based on “some business cards” which he had allegedly found in the trash. Then the Christian Lawyers took up the case.

An example of the so-called evidence submitted was a slip of paper on which a clinic doctor, who is Muslim, had written some verses from the Koran for personal reasons. How this slip of paper had ended up in court was a mystery to him, as he said he would never have thrown it away, given its contents.

Another claim, that a clinic was violating regulations on biomedical waste management and endangering public health and the environment was also dismissed. The clinics all contract a bona fide company to remove biological waste, which the court accepted.

These accusations and complaints against the clinics are made regularly, made worse by the majority Government party’s support. Harassment of any woman entering a clinic is also a regular occurrence.

SOURCE: Público, by Jennifer Tejada Dewar, 12 September 2016

Source: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion