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