Feminists and unions present 4,000 self-accusations of abortion at Court
Madrid, February 8, 2008.- Representatives of more than 72 feminist and family planning organizations and unions have presented 4,000 self-accusations of abortion at the Court in Madrid yesterday, in the context of the “For women’s right to choose” campaign.
The move follows the aim of being supportive with those women who have been required to state in Court as well as demanding changes in the current legislation of abortion in Spain.
At present, the interruption of pregnancy is considered a crime under the Penal Code, the reason why all these organizations have demanded an urgent change of this consideration.
Some background on the abortion issue in Spain
In Spain, abortion is illegal except when a woman has been raped (the termination must be done in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy), in the case of foetal malformations (up to 22 weeks’ gestation), and when the woman faces grave danger to her life or physical or mental health (there is no time limit in this case).
At present almost all abortions are carried out in private clinics, as the public health system covers only 2.5 percent of the total. This "weakness" in state healthcare is heavily influenced by the Catholic Church’s anti-abortion campaign, according to family support organisations.
Health Ministry statistics indicate that the number of abortions in the country has doubled in the last decade.
Every year, one woman out of 100 in the age range of 15 to 44 has an abortion. Of these, 40 percent are under 25 and 14 percent are under 19 years old.
The rise in the number of abortions performed in Spain should be countered with education for children and young people, and not with crackdowns, the head of the Women’s Forum in Madrid’s city government, Lourdes Hernández, told IPS last January.
Guillermo González, head of the FPFE, agreed with Hernández about the need for sex education, "which is practically non-existent." Sex education should be part of the official school curriculum, "although not necessarily as a separate subject," he told IPS.
An issue which should be speedily addressed, he said, is the sale of contraceptives, "which should be available over-the counter, as it is unacceptable that only condoms can be purchased without a prescription."
"The first item to be deregulated should be the morning-after pill (emergency contraception), which has proven to have very few side-effects, and is an important aid for women to make their own decision about whether or not to become pregnant, as is their prerogative," he said.
Spain’s legislation on abortion is the most restrictive in Europe, while Dutch laws are the most liberal. Women in the Netherlands can have an abortion on demand at any time up to 24 weeks’ gestation.
Medical sources in Spain point out that the time limit of 22 weeks for malformed foetuses means that if malformations incompatible with survival are discovered after that gestational age, an abortion cannot be performed and the woman must give birth to a baby who is doomed to die.
The Association of Accredited Abortion Clinics (ACAI), which represents about 50 private clinics, is calling for a law to allow women to make a free choice about whether or not to remain pregnant, "with no interference from the state," within the first 12 weeks of gestation. Only from the 13th week would conditions and limitations be set for the termination of pregnancy.
In response to anti-abortion declarations and physical attacks on abortion clinics by campaigners, González said that "the sectors that are against sex education, contraceptives and the morning-after pill are the same ones that later clutch their heads because abortions are rising."
"What they really want is for no one to have sex, but that isn’t going to happen, so the only solution is to provide information and birth control," he said.
Family planning organisations calling for the decriminalisation of abortion, and the Catholic Church and its followers demanding the opposite, will have to wait until the new parliament convenes after the Mar. 9 elections, as the previous parliament’s sessions have ended.
The statement presented at Court
The text released by these organizations to support their own “For women’s right to choose” which was handed out at the Court, says:
“The feminist and family planning organizations and unions organizing the ‘For women’s right to choose’ campaign, present at the Court in Madrid some 4,000 self-accusations collected at Madrid.
“2,478 women have stated having interrupted their pregnancies voluntarily and responsibly; 1,422 men and women have stated having supported a woman in her abortion.
“These signatures presented in Madrid are added to those other signatures collected in other cities of other Autonomous Communities, such as Granada, Jaén, Cádiz, Vigo, León, Burgos, Salamanca, Segovia, Zaragoza, and Barcelona. Already, some 1,072 signatures were presented in Asturias, some 280 in Valladolid, some 139 in Córdoba; next February, 14 more signatures will be presented in Granada and next February, 16 in Cantabria. Today, more signatures will be presented in Valencia.
“With the presentation of these self-accusations, all these organizations want to be supportive with those women who have been required to state at the Courts 35 and 47 of the city of Madrid, in a move that is part of the push of conservative groups whose goal is to hinder the women’s right to abortion; we also assume the consequences following these statements, demanding to be required to state in Court if necessary; with our statement, we want to report the situation of social and legal vulnerability facing those women who decide to abort and those medical professionals who attend such choices.
“We consider that this situation takes place as a result of the inadequacies of the current partial decriminalisation of abortion. This is why we demand an immediate change of the current legislation: a) That abortion is no longer considered as a crime under the Penal Code; b) The guarantee of the practice of abortion in the public health system; c) The respect of women’s right to choose.
“We call for a mobilization in view of next March, 8 a date who celebrates the Woman’s International Day, to keep on stating our demands.
“Groups supporting the “For Women’s Right to Choose” Campaign:
Asamblea Feminista de Madrid
Asociación de Asistencia a Mujeres Violadas
Asociación de Mujeres de la Enseñanza
Asociación de Mujeres Juristas Themis
Asociación de Mujeres para la Salud
Asociación de Mujeres Progresistas "Plaza Mayor”
Asociación de Mujeres Viva la Pepa
Asociación de Planificación Familiar de Madrid
Asociación Igualadas Madrid
Católicas por el Derecho a Decidir
CEM. Centro de Estudios de la Mujer
Colectivo en defensa de los derechos de las prostitutas. Hetaira
Comisión para la Investigación de Malos Tratos a Mujeres
Consejo de la Mujer del Municipio de Madrid
Coordinadora de Asociaciones de Carabanchel
Coordinadora Española del Lobby Europeo de Mujeres
Federación de Planificación Familiar Estatal - FPFE
Federación de Asociaciones de Mujeres Separadas y Divorciadas
Federación de Mujeres Progresistas
Federación Mujeres Jóvenes
Forum de Política Feminista
Genera & Enlaces: Coalición Asociativa
Grupo de Interés Español en Población, Desarrollo y Salud Reproductiva – Grupo GIE
Grupo de Buenos Tratos de Liberación – Amauta
Grupo de Mujeres de Carabanchel
Grupo de Mujeres de Comillas
Grupo de Mujeres de Vallecas
Grupo de Mujeres feministas de Espacio Alternativo
Las Federicas Tejiendo Salud
Organización de Mujeres de STERM-Intersindical
Mujeres de Negro de Madrid
Mujeres en Red
Mujeres en Rojo
Mujeres Vecinales de Madrid
Nosotras Mismas de Chamberí
Nosotras No Nos Resignamos
Plataforma de Mujeres 2000
RQTR. Asoc. de lesbianas, gays, transexuales y bisexuales de la Univ. Complutense
Secretaría de la Mujer de CCOO de Madrid. Secretaría Confederal de la Mujer de COO
Secretaría de Igualdad de UGT-Madrid
STEM (Sindicato de Trabajadoras de la Enseñanza de Madrid)
Asociación de mujeres “Las Tejedoras”
Asociación de mujeres de Alcorcón
Asociación Mujeres en Marcha
Asociación de Mujeres de las Artes Escénicas Marías Guerreras
Asociación de Mujeres en lucha contra los malos tratos de Rivas-Vaciamadrid
Asociación Mujeres Opañel.
Asociación Nosotras en el Mundo
Centro de estudios de la Mujer de Las Rozas
Colectivo de jóvenas feministas
Colectivo de Mujeres Convboca
Consejo de la Mujer de la Comunidad de Madrid
LiberACCIÓN - LGTB de izquierdas
Mujeres vecinales de Villa Rosa.
Asociación de Mujeres La Pasionaria (Rivas-Vaciamadrid)
Area de mujer de la asociación Cultura y Cooperación al Desarrollo (CUCO)
AMASOL Asociación de Madres Solas, Familias Monoparentales
Área de la Mujer de Radio Vallekas
AsOciación de Mujeres por un Envejecimiento Saludable.
Asociación Solidaridad con Madres Solteras
Mujeres por la Salud y la Paz.
Plataforma de Mujeres Artistas contra la Violencia de Género
Red Internacional de Mujeres Periodistas y Comunicadoras – Madrid
Secretaría de la Mujer de la Unión de Actores de Madrid
Área de la Mujer. Asociación libre de abogados (ALA)
Equipo de Género de la Asociación AESCO (América-España Solidaridad y Cooperación)
Mujeres de Socialismo Libertario”.