SPAIN – Access to abortion in Spain: the 45 most important barriers

The above report, published on World Health Day, 7 April 2021, describes inequalities of access to abortion in different parts of Spain, the difficulty of not always being able to choose either the aspiration method or the medical method, lack of safety during the Covid-19 pandemic because of having to attend in-person visits, and the existence of threats and harassment by fundamentalist and anti-rights groups. The second part of the report also presents a list of the 45 most important barriers to the right to abortion and 45 recommendations to take into account in order to transform current public policies in Spain and make abortion fully accessible on request.

For example, it shows that over 6,400 women each year have to travel outside their own province or locale to obtain an abortion. No one has to travel outside their own province or locale to give birth, why do so many have to do so to have an abortion?

As regards choice of abortion method, most of the Autonomous Communities offer both surgical and medical methods, but the picture in some places is quite disparate, with a wide margin of variability that affects the principle of choice. The most appropriate method is not always offered at a specific stage of pregnancy due to lack of knowledge of the methods on the part of medical and public health personnel. Limiting the offer to one method, or imposing only one method, and/or offering incorrect or biased information restricts women’s freedom of decision and violates their rights.

Extra risks due to Covid-19 – The three days of mandatory reflection before women are allowed to have an abortion in Spain has created extra risks because it requires an extra, in-person visit that has no clinical value. Only Galicia and Catalonia have allowed the first visit – to request the abortion – to be telemedical, which supports relatively more safety for women.

The full report is 146 pages and covers many additional issues, such as the failure to ensure that migrant women have access to abortion services. The hope is that it will stimulate a national debate in support of improvements in services.

SOURCES: PRESS RELEASE, 7 April 2021; FULL REPORT (en español) ; Women’s Link Worldwide, e-mail