The Spanish government’s recent reform on abortion legislation has seen grandmothers taking to the street to defend the rights of their daughters and granddaughters.
CECILE NICOD, MA South Asian Area Studies
For free mothers! Source: The Guardian
How is it possible that we are seeing a retreat in women’s rights in Spain, a country that has come so far in the past few decades after long-term dictatorship, pushing aside the Catholic Church and achieving a transition to democracy?
The Spanish government’s new laws on abortion restricts women to only being able to terminate a pregnancy in the case of rape or if the mother is suffering from severe mental or physical harm.
It also eliminates the possibility of abortion if the fetus is found to have serious deformations. Doctors also have the power to refuse to perform an abortion and the consent of at least two specialists are required to carry out the termination.
What is also entirely ridiculous about these laws is the timing. In 2010, the socialist government approved a more liberal abortion policy, allowing abortion up to the 14th week, sparking a reaction from the right-wing Popular Party. This is retaliation. But honestly, in the dark economic times that Spain is in, where unemployment affects half of young people, why restrict abortion now?
All I can think of is the soaring levels of clandestine abortions that will result from this reform and especially of how the less wealthy might only be able to afford abortions performed in perilous conditions. Another tragic consequence could be an increase in the abandonment of babies. The psychological effects on women and on the wider population should not be underestimated; this decision adds on another economic worry on an already fragile population.
Other implications that spring to mind are frankly frightening, such as whether this policy will be echoed across other countries in the European continent. The abortion discussion is happening. For instance, in Switzerland on February 9, the people will decide whether abortions will continue to be reimbursed and thus be kept as a basic component of health insurance.
Once again the right to decide is being taken away and I believe that both decisions are of paramount importance: to want to abort or to not want to. I fail to understand the logic behind keeping women from making decisions that affect their own bodies. If it is based on the premise that women=mothers, isn’t it more preferable for women=mothers-when-they-want-to-be?
This new policy is not just an attack on the rights of women; it’s also an attack on the rights of the child. Basic rights include health, happiness and being able to access knowledge. Moreover, all children have the right to live a life in which they can be not just provided for, fed and educated but also loved and cherished.