Spanish govt proposes wider abortion rights, menstrual leave

The Spanish government has approved a draft bill that widens abortion rights for teenagers and may make Spain the first country in Europe entitling workers to paid menstrual leave

By The Associated Press
17 May 2022

MADRID -- The Spanish government approved a draft bill Tuesday that widens abortion rights for teenagers and may make Spain the first country in Europe entitling workers to paid menstrual leave.

The measures are part of a package of proposals that will be sent to the Spanish parliament for debate. The package includes an extension of abortion rights, scrapping the requirement for 16- and 17-year-olds to obtain parental consent before terminating a pregnancy.


Spain to ease abortion limits for over-16s and allow menstrual leave

Parental permission to end for terminations and up to five days’ leave a month for painful periods

Sam Jones in Madrid
Thu 12 May 2022

Spain’s Socialist-led coalition government is preparing a law that would allow women over the age of 16 to have abortions without permission from their parents or guardians, and introduce up to five days of menstrual leave a month.

The draft legislation, which is due to be approved by the cabinet next week, is intended to ensure that abortion is available to all those using the public health system, and that menstruation is treated as a proper health issue.


Spain bans harassment of women entering abortion clinics

Posted: Apr 8, 2022

MADRID (AP) — Spain is awaiting the publication in coming days of a new law banning the intimidation or harassment of women entering abortion clinics.

The law comes into force when it is published in the Government Gazette, possibly next week, after the Spanish Senate on Wednesday endorsed a law passed earlier by parliament.


Thousands protest against abortion in Madrid


Thousands of people marched though Madrid on Sunday to protest against abortion, as Spain's leftist government prepares a law to guarantee access to the procedure at public hospitals.

Carrying signs that read "Abortion is not right" and chanting "More respect for life", demonstrators walked through the centre of the Spanish capital to Cibeles square in central Madrid where a manifesto was read aloud.


In Spain, abortions legal but barriers remain


Madrid (AFP) – When Spanish doctor Marta Vigara was 17 weeks pregnant, her waters broke and she quickly realised the prognosis for her pregnancy was "very bad".

A geriatric specialist working at Madrid's Clinico San Carlos hospital, she immediately went to her colleagues in the gynaecology department to have a therapeutic abortion.


 Abortion in Spain: Women struggle to access treatment despite it being legal

Video: 5:33 minutes

Some 100,000 abortions take place every year in Spain. In theory, terminations are a right under Spanish law but in practice, many women face obstacles when they choose to terminate a pregnancy. The medical establishment itself is often hostile to the prospect of performing abortions, and doctors working in the field say they are stigmatised by their pro-life colleagues. Our correspondents report.


In Spain, Abortions Are Legal, but Many Doctors Refuse to Perform Them

Many physicians in the country call themselves “conscientious objectors” and deny the procedures, often forcing women to travel long distances for one.

By Nicholas Casey
Sept. 21, 2021

ZARAGOZA, Spain — Dr. Mercedes Sobreviela, a gynecologist in this city in northeast Spain, believes it is a woman’s choice whether she has an abortion. She says the “right decision” for a woman is “always the one she wants.”

But as a physician in Spain, Dr. Sobreviela believes she has the right to choose as well, and she has chosen not to perform abortions.


SPAIN – Abortion is prohibited in Rioja

From: International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
March 24, 2021

Rioja is a province and autonomous community in northern Spain. A report in a feminist magazine called Pikara, published on 17 February 2021, reported that all the gynaecology staff in Rioja have signed a conscientious objection statement in order not to have to do voluntary abortions. Women from Rioja are therefore referred to other provinces, which can delay their abortions by as much as two weeks, despite the fact that the upper time limit for a legal abortion on request is 14 weeks and a three-day reflection period is also required.
This article focuses on the personal experiences of women who have tried to get an abortion in Rioja. After it was published, many feminist activists in the province expressed concern because they didn’t realise this situation existed. Other voices have been raised from other regions of Spain as well. This is very important for us at Women’s Link Worldwide, as we have been denouncing these situations for years and they are finally starting to get space in the media via personal testimonies, and not only based on the official statistics we have shared. The following are excerpts from the much longer Pikara article.
When Maria realised she was pregnant, she made an appointment with her family doctor for an abortion. She was a single mother with a one-year-old son and couldn't consider having another child at the time. The doctor was about to say "congratulations" when Maria burst into tears. “She treated me very well and started the process for me, but she was the only doctor who did treat me well.” Her doctor did not have the papers she needed for Maria to get an appointment at the local hospital, where she would be counselled and formally request an abortion. After the papers were finally sent in, however, the hospital did not contact Maria to make an appointment for ten days. So she went in person to ask what the problem was, and was told that the hospital, and no other hospital in Rioja, public or private, would help with abortion because of conscientious objection.
So Maria had to go looking for another hospital to counsel her. However, the staff at the one she found was on holiday for a week. By the time she saw someone, it was on a Wednesday, she was eight weeks pregnant. She was told she had to wait to collect the papers until the following Monday, though that was longer than the required three days for reflection. She began to feel overwhelmed because yet another week was going to go by. When she returned for the consultation and confirmed she wanted an abortion, she was given three options, all of which involved travel to another city – Zaragoza, Pamplona or Bilbao. She chose Bilbao because it was closest and she had a friend there. By the time she was able to get an appointment however, she was already 11.5 weeks pregnant. That was too late for medical abortion pills so she had a surgical abortion, and was given only a sedative.
Another woman, a mother of two children, was given a very hard time by the doctor who she saw to get permission for the abortion. She said: “In my case I already had two children. I know what a fetus can turn into later. It was very unpleasant. They even told me that they recommended I have my tubes tied, that I was irresponsible. I had to do a lot of paperwork and it took two weeks for me to make an appointment at a clinic in Pamplona. Then you get there and you find an anti-abortion demonstration at the door, telling you to put it up for adoption. I had to ask for the day off to go there, paying for the trip out of my pocket, have the intervention at five in the afternoon and by seven return home… When I had my third child, I was fired from my job while breastfeeding, despite having been at the company for five years. It's easy to say don't abort, of course, but then look what happens."
Another woman described how she experienced contraceptive failure and was told by the local hospital that abortion was illegal. As a public defender herself, she knew that was wrong, but rather than argue she decided to go to a private hospital in Logroño, the capital of Rioja, where they explained that they did not perform abortions either and that she should try a gynaecology clinic in the city. In the end she found a private clinic in Vitoria, a city near Bilbao, and paid 300 Euros plus the bus trip. The boyfriend had freaked out and disappeared, so she was relieved she hadn't had the baby. She said she didn’t dare to tell her family as she felt ashamed. “Before my abortion, I had no idea that this sort of thing was happening because no one talks about it,” she said.
One of the places that women in Rioja are seen locally is the hospital emergency room – if they are miscarrying, that is. “Officially, there is no one who performs abortions in Rioja, but sometimes women with ‘an abortion in progress’ arrive at the emergency room, and then they do care for you, of course, because it has already happened. Women come in bleeding because someone has given them the abortion pills, this happens a lot.”
There are also private clinics making money out of this situation. In 2019 the Socialist Party won the election in Rioja, and formed a government with United We Can. Although the pandemic has delayed action, a commitment has been made to ensure that a sufficient number of gynaecologists will provide abortions. A new equality bill is also on the table and ideas are being discussed for a law that will ensure abortion is provided in Rioja in the public health system. Let’s hope so.
BACKGROUND: by Laura Martínez Valero, Women’s Link Worldwide, E-mail: 11 March 2021.
REPORT: Prohibido abortar en La Rioja, by Teresa Villaverde, Pikara, 17 February 2021 (en español). VISUAL: Pikara logo.

Spain abortion: Government works to repeal parental consent rule

Oct 8, 2020

The Spanish
government has said it wants to change the law to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to
seek an abortion without parental permission.

Equality Minister Irene Montero said women should have the right to
"decide about their bodies".


Abortion is a protected right in Spain. But the govt blocked a website that provides abortion info and pills.

Since becoming legal in 1985, right-wing politicians have periodically made feeble attempts to limit or ban access to abortions. Each time it happens though, the action is met with strong pushback from the public.

July 16, 2020
By Shauna Blackmon and Lucía Benavides

Access to abortion in Spain is sacrosanct. The procedures are free — covered by the public national health care system — and allowed up until the 14th week of pregnancy for any reason; until the 22nd week with a doctor’s note; and sometimes after 22 weeks if there are issues with either the fetus’ or the mother’s health.

Since abortion become legal in 1985, right-wing politicians have periodically made feeble attempts to limit or ban access to it. Each time it happens, though, the action is met with strong pushback from the public.