Spain guarantees abortion in public hospitals and sick leave for painful menstruation | Spain

The Spanish Parliament approved, this Thursday, in a final vote, the law that aims to guarantee access to voluntary interruption of pregnancy (IVG) in public hospitals and that institutes sick leave due to painful and disabling menstruations.

In the case of abortion, the revision of the law “on sexual and reproductive health and the voluntary interruption of pregnancy” aims to remove the obstacles that currently limit, in practice, the practice of IVG in public hospitals in Spain, regulating, among other things, the exercise of conscientious objection by health professionals.

“The vast majority” of IVGs in Spain, 78.04%, were carried out in 2020 in private clinics and hospitals, with regions where “no voluntary termination of pregnancy has been registered in recent years”, according to the introductory text of the revision of the law approved today.

To get around this obstacle, the new law – an initiative of the Government, which is a coalition of the Socialist Party (PSOE) with the left-wing platform Unidas Poder – establishes that all health professionals declare in writing whether or not they are conscientious objectors and that this statement is valid both when they work in the public service and in private clinics.

Depending on the declarations of conscientious objection, the regional governments, which oversee health in Spain, must then ensure that there are always doctors and nurses available in public hospitals for a woman to access IVG in her area of ​​residence.

The new legislation also ends the mandatory three days of reflection for women who ask for IVG and increases access to the so-called morning-after pill, both with greater availability free of charge in certain health and social services, and with increased co-payment.

On the other hand, 16- and 17-year-old girls are once again able to access IVG without the need for parental authorization, as was already the case before a change introduced in the abortion law by Popular Party Governments (PP, right), in 2015.

Fighting “menstrual poverty”

The new law also establishes a series of rights related to “menstrual health”, with measures considered unprecedented in Europe, such as the right of women to sick leave, fully paid by Social Security, of up to five days, for “painful and disabling” menstruations “.

Menstrual hygiene products will also be distributed in schools, social centers or prisons, to combat “menstrual poverty”, in the words used this Thursday in Parliament by the Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, one of the leaders of the Podemos party.

The revision of Spain’s abortion law was approved with the votes of 185 deputies and the opposition of 154, among them, right-wing and far-right parliamentarians (PP and Vox).

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