IPPFEN joined over 2,000 protesters last night in support of Spanish women, demanding that the Spanish government respect human rights and scrap the proposed changes to the abortion law. Thousands gathered in front of the Spanish embassy and the European Parliament to deliver a statement to the Spanish government. The statement highlights the grave risks the proposed bill would have on the health of all women residing in Spain. The new measures which the conservative government has approved will criminalize abortion except in cases of reported rape or where a woman’s life and health is at risk.
Lena Luyckfasseel from IPPFEN told the cheering crowd: ‘Spain should abandon this war on women’s rights. Restrictive abortion laws do not reduce the number of abortions – they force women to travel abroad or find clandestine abortions in deplorable conditions.Hannes Swoboda, the leader of Socialists & Democrats, the second-largest group in the European Parliament, echoed the sentiment seen on hundreds of signs, carried by the protestors:” It’s women who should decide on their bodies - not governments.”
The march in Brussels was the first to start a string of mass demonstrations planned for following weeks. Activists from all over Spain are arriving in Madrid on the ‘Freedom train’ on Saturday, February 1st, to deliver their message to the Spanish government. Large protests are also taking place in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Milan, Rome and Stockholm this Saturday.
Spain’s conservative Popular Party, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, is pushing a bill that would overturn the current legislation. It would severely restrict sexual and reproductive health and rights and women's access to safe and legal abortion. The bill allows abortion only in the case of reported rape or grave danger to the health of the mother, depending on the opinion of two independent medical professionals. Minors who seek abortions would need parental approval, and fatal malformations of the foetus would no longer qualify as a reason to terminate a pregnancy. If the bill is passed, Spain will become one of the most restrictive countries in the European Union when it comes to abortion rights.
This initiative is based on no public health justification, since the number of abortions performed in Spain in 2012 was actually lower than in 2010 and 2011. There is no demand from the Spanish society to change the law - according to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, 80% of voters do not agree with the proposed bill.