SPAIN – Setbacks for abortion and family planning in Madrid

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. The reason the High Court gave for rejecting the appeal was to do with a minor infraction of the rules, identified by the Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid (are they anti-abortion too??), that the FPFE had publicised a medication that the law prohibits them from doing. This is not enough to lose the declaration of public utility, which allows FPFE to be funded publicly.

The Ministry of Health of the Community of Madrid acknowledged that the benefit obtained by FPFE from the advertising of medicines had been nil. In fact, the FPFE had authorization for the publication of advertising messages that had been granted by the Service of Control and Surveillance of Pharmaceutical Products. Moreover, the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers has no legitimacy to challenge the granting of the declaration of public utility.

False reports against FPFE have also been published on some websites and in some media that FPFE were being sanctioned for illegal financing and that they hid this information when they applied for the public utility declaration. None of this is true, FPFE say.

They also say it continues to amaze them how quickly the revocation of the declaration took place by the Ministry of the Interior. On 5 May 2016, in the official State newsletter it was published that FPFE was declared as entity of public utility. The following day, the Spanish Association of Christian lawyers opposed the declaration of public utility and on 26 May 2016, the Ministry of the Interior revoked the public utility of the FPFE. The so-called Christian Lawyers used a “slight administrative fault” to launch successive campaigns of harassment against FPFE and against its workers and collaborators in social networks, as well as to denounce them to international and national organizations, including ones that are funding FPFE . Various media outlets have defamed the organization, linking them with the supposed “trafficking of organs of aborted babies”.

FPFE say there is no point analysing and judging the moral considerations and beliefs of other organizations in Spain: “We only answer for our own organization: the FPFE defends the right of all people to freely decide on their sexuality and reproductive health; defends the right to abortion, a right that is legally recognized in our laws, so we understand that we do not have to justify it. We defend sexual education, which is also contemplated in our legislation, specifically in the Organic Law of Sexual and Reproductive Health, and repeatedly recommended by international organizations and the United Nations as one of the best ways to prevent gender-based violence, unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.”

“We are really surprised to have to continue defending realities that the vast majority of our society see as normal and that should be addressed from the field of health and the rights of people, but we will certainly continue to do so as far as we can. And we just hope that, as we have already said in some of our latest releases, religious beliefs must not be used as an instrument to legislate or to manage justice when our Constitution establishes that we are a non-denominational state. We take this opportunity to thank so many people and organizations that are showing us enormous solidarity.”

SOURCES: FPFE email and FPFE statement, 27 November 2017 ; See also previous Campaign newsletter report, 3 June 2016