Wednesday, October 27

The Government admits that there are “obstacles” to access abortion and starts the process to reform the law

The Ministry of Equality has started this Tuesday, International Day for the Decriminalization of Abortion, the prior public consultation with which it formally begins its next legislative project: the reform of the abortion law. The department headed by Irene Montero, specifically the Women’s Institute, which leads the process, expects to have a draft ready in December that will update the standard 11 years after its launch. Among other objectives is to put an end to “obstacles” that “hinder access” to sexual and reproductive rights, admits the text of the query, to which has had access.

The registry of conscientious objectors to abortion attacking medical schools and the PP has already been endorsed by the Constitutional Court

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Until next October 12, anyone will be able to send their contributions, a common process of public participation with which the Government advances the general lines of its initiatives. The law, approved in 2010 by the Executive of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, allowed free abortion until week 14; and since then “the progress made has been remarkable”, recognizes Equality, “but there is a problem in relation to the guarantee of accessibility, gratuity and territorial equity”.

According to the ministry, this is illustrated by the available data: currently only 15% of abortions are performed in public centers and thousands of women are forced each year to travel to have an abortion. There are entire hospitals that claim conscientious objection to not perform interventions, even in those cases in which there is risk to life, and provinces in which there is no way to abort because there are no clinics with which to arrange the service, which is the prevailing model in Spain. The associations point to a “lack of political will” to reorganize the services and point out that behind the right to object there is also a lack of training and standardization of the practice, still laden with stigma and lacking in prestige.

Among the measures to eliminate these obstacles, Equality has advanced the regulation of conscientious objection through a registry, in the style of the Euthanasia Law, and which the medical associations oppose. Also “promote the training of health professionals” as well as “promote research, studies and the promotion of good practices from diversity and a feminist approach.” The lack of training is another of the failures pointed out by the associations, despite the fact that article 8 of the current law already obliges the public powers to guarantee it.

Another objective will be “the elimination of stigmatization and harassment” at the doors of the clinics that last week Congress supported prosecuting through a new crime despite opposition from Vox and the PP. These situations, the ministry believes, “put the physical and moral integrity” of women at risk, who are sometimes harassed by ultra-Catholics who try to dissuade them, and professionals and the Ombudsman have already urged administrations on several occasions to put an end to it. One of the options being considered is the implementation of so-called “security zones” around the clinics.

End to the reform of the PP

The law will also repeal the rule launched by the Popular Party in 2015 and which limited access to abortion to girls aged 16 and 17, who since then must have the consent of their parents. It was what was left of the counter-reform attempt by Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, then Minister of Justice, to restrict the right to abortion in Spain and who resigned after strong social opposition. This is one of the “central aspects” to which the Government intends to respond now, with the aim of “guaranteeing the right” of young women and treating abortion “under conditions of equality with respect to other types of health benefits, contributing to to remove the stigma it still bears. ”

The elimination of the three days of the reflection period to which the law still requires is also the intention of the ministry directed by Irene Montero, together with measures that guarantee “informed knowledge of the existing techniques and of the different protocols and circuits that exist in the Autonomous Communities to access this benefit “. The purpose, the public consultation assumes, will be “to guarantee the effectiveness of the sexual and reproductive rights of all women, whatever their administrative situation or province of residence, and to consolidate the conception of sexual and reproductive health as a series of rights. humans to be guaranteed. ”

This is also intended to implement strategies that guarantee “comprehensive sexual education with a gender perspective and in all stages of life, as well as access to contraception”, two issues that are already in the 2010 law and that have not yet been fully implemented. The idea is that it be done through formal education, but also other mechanisms such as the media or social networks. “It is necessary to establish strategies that, from an intersectional approach, promote public policies aimed at women who have greater difficulties in accessing information and public services on sexual and reproductive health,” says Igualdad.

In relation to reproductive health, the reform plans to promote measures “that facilitate the promotion of compliance with the Strategy for Attention to Normal Delivery in the entire National Health System” since the most recent evaluation, in 2012, pointed to a ” low overall level of inclusion of recommendations “in health protocols. It is in this framework that Equality seeks to recognize obstetric violence as a type of gender violence.

An international framework based on human rights

The general objective of the reform will be to move towards the “consolidation of the conception of sexual and reproductive health as a set of human rights”, as required by multiple international organizations and guidelines that summarize the public consultation: from the milestone that the United Nations International Conference on Population and Development (Cairo, 1994) and the Beijing Platform for Action (1995) in the global recognition of sexual and reproductive rights for inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) or qualification of its violation as “forms of gender-based violence” made in 2015 by the Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) of the UN.

More recently, at the end of 2020, the European Commission warned in its 2020-2025 strategy for gender equality of “the need” to promote universal access to family planning, sexual and reproductive health services and to develop gender equality measures. information and education “without judgment and with a positive and inclusive approach”. Already in June 2021, the European Parliament approved a report that asks governments to guarantee the right to abortion and universal access to health services, a step that was strongly opposed by the lobby ultra-Catholic in Brussels, who spent weeks pushing to try to have it rejected. The report had the vote against the Vox MEPs and the PP.