Spanish bill would allow girls 16 and 17 to get an abortion without parental consent

Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero speaks after the Council of Ministers March 3 2020 Credit La Moncloa   Gobierno de Espaa via Flickr CC BY NC ND 20 Spanish Equality Minister Irene Montero speaks after the Council of Ministers, March 3, 2020. | La Moncloa - Gobierno de España via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Spain’s coalition government of Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez intends to propose a bill that would legalize abortion without parental consent for 16 and 17 year old children.

Sources in the Ministry of Equality have confirmed to the EFE news agency that the text is in the last phase of negotiation in the government, formed by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party and Unidas Podemos, and that the Council of Ministers are expected to approve it May 17.

After approval by the cabinet, the bill would be introduced to the Congress of Deputies.

The draft bill would eliminate a three day waiting period before procuring abortion, during which the mother is  informed of the rights, benefits, and public assistance for motherhood and getting an abortion.

It would also regulate conscientious objection by healthcare personnel, creating a register of conscientious objectors, and reinforce the right to abortion at public healthcare facilities, making having an abortion in a private clinic a secondary choice.

In addition, the bill would reduce or eliminate value-added tax on feminine hygiene products and offer free items at locations such as schools and prisons, provide extended paid maternity leave before giving birth, and allow medical leave for women with severe menstrual pain.

Abortion has been legal in Spain since 1985. The current abortion law, mandating parental consent for girls aged 16 and 17 to procure an abortion, was was adopted in 2015 when the People's Party was in power. The People's Party is now the largest group in the opposition.

Equality Minister Irene Montero said in October 2020 that it is "more than necessary" to repeal the parental consent law. 

Montero said in the Council of Ministers at the time that "we demand, like so many [abortion advocates] from all corners of the world, the right of all women to decide about their bodies and we demand a freely decided motherhood and above all a full and free sexual life."

And in July 2021, Montero declared that “the right of physicians to conscientious objection cannot be above women’s right to decide.”

Women in Spain can get state-paid abortion on demand during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy, up to 22 weeks in cases of serious health risks to the mother or baby, and for all nine months if the fetus has anomalies incompatible with life, or an extremely serious and incurable disease.

Last month, the Spanish penal code was amended to criminalize “harassment” of women entering abortion clinics.

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