Monday, 5 July 2010

Today Spain has a New Abortion Law

As of today, July 5, Spain has a new abortion law similar to those of most other EU countries. For the first time in history the legislation grants the right to abortion. Until yesterday, and as a 25 year old law, abortions were formally still a crime, but - under certain circumstances - without penalty.

The new law stipulates a three-day time for reconsideration after which abortions are free up to the 14th week. Thereafter and until the 22nd week, abortions are allowed only if the pregnancy would otherwise pose a serious health risk to the woman. After 22 weeks, only severely deformed fetuses can be aborted.

Since last year, emergency contraception pills (day-after pill) can be sold without prescription in
Spanish pharmacies and in the future they might even be free of charge. That is one of the elements considered in a comprehensive Strategy for Sexual and Reproductive Health (Estrategia de Salud Sexual y Reproductiva, in Spanish) on which Zapatero's PSOE government is now working. In combination with more information on contraceptive methods, the aim is to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and thereby the need for abortions.

Under the old law abortions were permitted in three cases. If the pregnancy occurred as a result of rape, it could be interrupted until the 12th week. Up to week 22 malformed fetuses could be aborted. The third reason did not have any time limit, but required for serious threats to the health of the mother and, for years, this is where women have found a solution. In 2008, 96.69% of those who performed an abortion claimed that their mental health was in danger – a statement which many of them considered highly humiliating.

The part of the abortion law which has caused the most debate concerns the right of minors to carry out abortions. The final wording of the law gives girls of 16 and 17 years of age the right to make the decision by themselves but at the same time requires for at least one of their parents to be informed and accompany them to the clinic.

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Find here a Spanish version of the same text.

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The Swedish NGO RFSU which promotes Sexual and Reproductive Rights has taken interest in this new abortion law. In the 2/2010 issue of their magazine "Ottar" they present the Spanish Equality Minister Bibiana Aído (PSOE) to their members. A summary of that article in Spanish can be found here.

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El País: Frenar el aborto, reto de la nueva ley

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