Spanish Congress approves law reform with right to abortion for minors

by Lorraine Williamson
abortion for minors

The Spanish Congress of Deputies on Tuesday approved the reform of the law restoring the right to abortion for minors under 16 and 17. However, at issue is the law on sexual and reproductive health. 

Among other things, it restores the right to abortion for minors aged 16 and 17, who will not need parental consent to have an abortion. The law is supported by all parliamentary groups represented in the body, with the exception of PP, Vox and Ciudadanos. Since it is an organic text, it must be approved by the Congress plenary. 

Among the changes included in this first stage of the final approval of the text is the introduction of an ‘urgent’ judicial procedure in case of disagreement between a minor under 16 and the person who should give her consent to undergo an abortion. 

In addition, changes have been made to the composition of clinical committees. None of their members must be on the current register of objectors or for the previous three years. Also, these committees should not have the final say on terminating a pregnancy after 22 weeks. The pregnant adolescent can appeal their decision through the courts if she disagrees with them. 

No support for pro-life organisations 

An item has also been added to prevent government agencies from supporting pro-life associations and to remove penalties for doctors who perform abortions without observing the cooling-off period and without providing their patients with information on active policies to support motherhood. Similarly, access to maternity or paternity leave has been included in temporary and emergency nursing care, previously limited to those lasting more than a year. 

The conservative PP points out that it is “unnecessary” and “inappropriate”, which, as they recalled, reforms a law that has been appealed to the Constitutional Court. 

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Text would express hostility towards health workers 

The Popular Party, through their spokesperson in this debate, Marta González, believes that this law has ‘fundamental problems’. This includes, they say, the register of objecting doctors or the intention to have abortions in public centres. They feel that its wording ‘radiates hostility towards health workers’. But also that it contains problems ‘made up’ by the government. This includes ‘menstrual health’ or the ‘management of menstrual poverty’. Furthermore, González says these are reminiscent of ‘the women’s section of Francoism’. 

The right-wing populist Vox said it would not vote for a law that ‘recognises abortion as a human right’ and that ‘establishes’ the interruption of pregnancy as ‘the only option’ in case of an ‘unplanned pregnancy’. The party also opposed the following;

  • repeal of the three-day reflection period for women requesting this practice
  • inclusion of conscientious objection ‘as an individual and not a fundamental right’
  • non-inclusion of pharmacists as beneficiaries of this right

Meanwhile, spokeswoman for the right-wing liberal party Ciudadanos, Sara Giménez, has spoken out against the fact that this initiative includes surrogacy as a practice of violence against women or disability leave due to menstrual pain, which she sees as “stigmatising” female workers. 

Defending powers 

Nationalist and pro-independence groups have criticised the need to respect the autonomous regions’ powers on certain issues. However, they all expressed support for reforming the law. 

Equality spokespersons of the PNV and the Junts mainly referred to issues related to education and health. Furthermore, they argued that the registers of objectors should not have a state character. 

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