SPAIN – Minister for Equality plans to remove abortion barriers

Irene Montero, Minister for Equality (above photo), announced on 8 July 2021 a reform of the abortion regulations to eliminate two barriers: one is the three days of “reflection” (implying women don’t know their own minds) required between the request for an abortion and the abortion itself. This change is endorsed by Association of Licensed Clinics for the Termination of Pregnancy (ACAI). The second reform is to no longer require parental permission for 16- and 17-year-olds. 

Montero also announced that her Ministry will focus on sexual and reproductive health policies in the coming months. “The abortion law [of 2010] needs reform,” she said. She also considers it “essential to regulate the conscientious objection of doctors” to guarantee that any woman can go “to a public hospital close to her home” to access an early abortion on request and to be able to choose the abortion method herself. “The right of doctors to conscientious objection cannot be above the right to decide of women,” she said. The information on how many doctors are conscientious objectors to abortion is not public, which is problematic for women. The only community that has a register of objectors is Navarra.

In a forum on sexual and reproductive health issues organised by the Institute for Women, Montero said: “Spain is prepared to definitively decriminalise abortion and work on eliminating “the barriers that are preventing effective access”. Antonia Morillo, the head of the Women’s Institute, held a meeting with the autonomous communities in June this year and has organised these conferences as a starting point to develop this proposal.

In 2019, 99,149 abortions were reported in Spain, according to a Ministry of Health report. Only 6.2% of the total were provided in public hospitals and another 8.12% in specialised centres of the public network. Most are carried out in the existing network of private clinics by arrangement with the public network. Most abortions are very early: 71% take place in the first eight weeks and 24% between the 9th and 14th weeks.

SOURCES: El País, by Pilar Alvarez, 8 July 2021 ; E-mail from Women’s Link Worldwide, 9 July 2021