UK – Pills in the post: how Covid reopened the abortion wars

As some European countries rolled out ‘telemed’ abortion, others shut down access completely.

by Sarah Hurtes and Daniel Boffey
Wed 21 Apr 2021

Kay, 34, realised her period was late a month into Britain’s lockdown. The coronavirus death count was spiralling across the country. Covid-19 was putting the NHS under unprecedented strain and Boris Johnson had given the British people what he described as “a very simple instruction” in an address to the nation from Downing Street: “You must stay at home.”

A worrying, unsettling time, and Kay, a mother of a six-year-old girl, needed to get hold of a pregnancy test kit. She went online and, two days later, took delivery of the test, learning of a positive result via two pink lines. It was the news she had dreaded.


The Covid-19 crisis has made it even more difficult to get an abortion in Spain

The Covid-19 crisis has made it even more difficult to get an abortion in Spain
(from International Campaign for Safe Abortion, translated from Spanish)

by Marisa Kohan
April 6, 2020

With public health services, a woman has to go through three, even four steps before she can have an abortion, sometimes having to travel far from where she lives. To date, this process has only been changed in Catalonia in response to Covid-19. One of these legally compulsory trips is to collect in person an envelope with information prepared by each autonomous community – known as 'face-to-face information' that contains an explanation of the abortion procedure and other resources in case the woman changes her mind. From that point, she must wait three days (mandatory reflection), before an abortion can be carried out.

For several weeks, various SRHR advocacy groups have been calling on the autonomous provincial governments and central government to reduce the number of trips necessary to access an abortion and thus reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection. They have called for procedures to be carried out electronically, such as the delivery of the envelopes.

On 3 April, Catalonia became the first and only community to eliminate this face-to-face procedure. An order from the Ministry of Health decreed that this information should be delivered electronically. The Association of Accredited Clinics for the Termination of Pregnancy (ACAI), whose clinics remain open, made this same request to the Ministry of Health, but to date have received no response. They also forwarded the request to the Minister of Equality, whose sources affirmed to Público that the "proposals are being studied", and "everything will be coordinated with Health, which is the competent Ministry", but not saying which proposals are on the table.

"It is paradoxical that during a state of emergency, in which absolutely everything has been regulated and with restrictions on fundamental rights and civil rights, no one has yet tackled this issue," said Silvia Adalvert, spokesperson for the Association of Family Planning of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. "What we are talking about is how women are at risk right now. When the message is to stay home, we are still asking women to make three visits to three different health centres, in many cases in another province. In the end, abortion remains a right that is not a right."

Migrant women already faced many obstacles, but now some of the health centres they must use have closed, and they are still required to comply with a series of administrative requirements, including to demonstrate they have been in Spain for more than 90 days.

SOURCE (in Spanish): Público, by Marisa Khohan, 7 April 2020 ; PHOTO, by Tomas Bravo, Reuters, 2013

SPAIN – Anti-abortion lawyers’ group loses their case against two abortion clinics

SPAIN – Anti-abortion lawyers’ group loses their case against two abortion clinics

by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Feb 20, 2020

The Superior Court of Justice of the Principality of Asturias, the highest court in the Principality, has overturned the ruling of the Provincial Court of Oviedo and found that the publicity materials of the Belladona and Buenavista Clinics are in conformity with the regulations of the Spanish Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. The ruling supports the decision of the Ministry of Health in the Principality, who defended the two clinics’ promotional information. The health professionals in both clinics are members of ACAI (Association of Accredited Abortion Clinics), a national association.

The Provincial Court of Asturias had ruled in favour of a complaint by an active anti-abortion Christian lawyers’ group a few days previously, which argued that the clinics’ publicity was misleading. However, the Superior Court of Justice maintained that the lawyers’ group lacked legitimacy to oppose the clinics’ appeal, since it had no “subjective right or legitimate interest in the matter” in accordance with jurisdictional law.


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:

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