Spain Passes Ambitious Reproductive Health Law

On December 15, 2022, Spain’s parliament passed a sexual and reproductive health law allowing girls aged 16 and 17 to undergo abortions without parental consent. The country also provides paid leave for women with severe menstrual pains.

What does the new law project?

Abortion has been legal in Spain since 2010. Before it was legalized, abortions were only permitted in certain situations. With the new changes, any woman can terminate a pregnancy in the first 14 weeks. Abortion is free in public health clinics for Spain women up to 14 weeks, or they can also decide to undergo surgery in a private clinic for a fee. Even after the proposed timing, until 22 weeks, abortion can be performed in Spain “when there is a fetal pathology incompatible with life, or when an extremely serious and incurable disease is detected in the fetus at the time of diagnosis and confirmed by a clinical committee.”

Spain is the first European country to authorize an initiative sexual and reproductive health law that says girls aged 16 to 17 can legally get an abortion without their parent's consent. Spain passed the law to ensure women are provided with abortion access and popularize the concept of menstrual health. This law means that the current three-day period for women to contemplate their abortion choice is ending, and also allows girls aged 16 to 17 to have an abortion without parental consent. The vote was met with a 190-154 majority and five abstentions.

The previous laws came into place in 2015 by the conservative People's Party government. “These advancements allow us to exercise freedom over our bodies, with the state recognizing the full citizenship of more than half the population," said Equality Minister Irene Montero.

The new authorized law also gives women paid maternity leave from work from 39 weeks and will help distribute free menstrual products in public areas such as schools, health systems, prisons, and more. "In the face of an unplanned pregnancy or a baby that may be born with a disability, there is only one way out the elimination of the life of her child," said Lourdes Mendez. She also said this new law contra the current constitution and will completely overturn Spain's ethics.

A spokesperson for Dator Sonia Lamas also shared with Reuters back in May that the new laws were greeted with joy by health clinics. The three-day contemplation interval is not needed as "women make very informed decisions and we don't need to reflect on something that we have already decided", added Lamas. Dator, a women's health clinic center in Spain, was met with protesters and individuals against abortion. The new law is now en route to the upper house for its final confirmation.

What are the United States laws on abortion?

With Roe v. Wade overturned on June 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court faced huge controversy among individuals throughout the country. Before the reverse action in 2022, abortion was legal from 1973 with Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey cases.

Currently, each state has different rules regarding abortions. 26 American states are all under the abortion-restrictive category, while the other 24 and the District of Columbia are classified as abortion-accessible. Some states, including Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana are considered the most abortion-restrictive, while states like Oregon, California, New Jersey, and New York are considered abortion-protected. In certain parts of the world, such as the Philippines, Madagascar, and Iraq, abortion is completely prohibited.

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