Gallardón

A Great Victory for Prochoice Activism

We did it! When My Belly is Mine was formed at the very beginning of this year, our objective was to stop the Spanish antiabortion draft bill proposed by the conservative Popular Party (also known as the People’s Party) from being presented in parliament. If enacted, this reform would have taken Spain back 30 years in terms of reproductive rights. We worked hard to raise awareness of this threat. We echoed the major demos in Spain, alongside other protesters in European capitals and in cities across the world. Indeed, we were just one of the many many voices in Spain and abroad that clamoured against the bill. The Spanish press finally reported this weekend that the proposed abortion reform has been shelved due to a lack of consensus within the party. Congratulations and thanks to every single person who took to the streets and shouted out against the bill! We won!

The Freedom Train protests in Madrid on the 1 Feb. My Belly is Mine echoed this protest in London.

“A discriminatory and regressive bill”

The Spanish Council of Ministers adopted the bill, known as “the organic law for the protection of the life of the conceived and the rights of the pregnant woman” on the 20th of December 2013. The bill ensured abortion was illegal in most cases. In fact, the initial draft of the bill even suggested banning abortion in cases of fetal malformation. This turned out to be one of the most controversial aspects of the bill, creating disagreement even within the ranks of the People’s Party, the conservative party with a majority in government that was proposing the reform. The human rights organisation Amnesty International called the bill “discriminatory and regressive” and pointed out that it “proposes humiliating and unrealistic barriers for women and girls to overcome before they can access a legal and safe abortion.”

“Nobody can force motherhood upon a woman”

“The abortion law has been aborted” Illustration by Jesús AG

As reported on this blog, the Spanish Justice Minister Gallardón was the main force behind this regressive bill, which was to be known unofficially as Gallardón’s Law. Gallardón repeatedly claimed to have Prime Minister Rajoy’s total support for the bill. It was no surprise that the political left in Spain came together to vehemently oppose the draft bill, yet it would be his own party and Rajoy that would bring about the Justice Minister’s undoing. Privately Gallardón garnered support from party members yet in public few supported him. The regional leader José Antonio Monago was the first to criticise the bill by stating “nobody can force motherhood upon a woman”. As protests mounted and the unpopularity of the bill became evident, other regional leaders began to fear for their own political careers.

Dissent Behind the Scenes

Gallardón continued to defend his reform as he became increasingly isolated within his own political party. Throughout the summer, the presentation of the bill in parliament was continually postponed. Gallardón talked of busy schedules and conflicting agendas. The Spanish press, however, surmised the bill was being stalled behind the scenes. Protests continued, maintaining the pressure. My Belly is Mine organised an intense summer campaign in conjunction with Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A and the 15M Spanish Women’s Assembly: we protested on two occasions outside the Spanish Embassy, once in the London Underground and once outside City Hall.

The Spanish Women's Assembly at a recent joint protest.

The Spanish Women’s Assembly at a recent joint protest.

The American author and activist Alice Walker said that activism was the rent she paid for living on the planet. Going to a protest, taking a banner, signing a petition, shouting out…this does all make a difference: always make your voice heard!

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Spanish Women in Limbo Over Abortion Law

“No insult will deter me from my commitment to protect the rights of the unborn”, Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruíz-Gallardón defiantly stated in February this year. This statement came two months after the Spanish Government announced its proposal to amend the country’s current abortion law in order to implement an almost blanket ban on pregnancy terminations. Despite continual protests against the bill organized by feminist and prochoice organizations in major Spanish cities and towns, manifestos defending a woman’s right to choose, condemnation by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, and surveys expressing the Spanish population’s unhappiness with the proposed antiabortion law, Gallardón remained steadfast in his determination to pass the regressive draft bill.

Spanish Justice Minister, Albert Ruíz-Gallardón

An Unpopular Bill

However, as reported on this blog, the Spanish Cabinet has had at least four clear opportunities to present the bill in parliament for debate and voting. On these four occasions (the 25th of June, the 1st and 8th of July and the 1st of August) the bill was conspicuous by its absence in Cabinet meetings. Gallardón claimed the delay was caused by the Presidency and Vice-presidency’s office, which is responsible for setting the Cabinet’s agenda. Spanish media, on the other hand, speculated members within Gallardón’s own party, the conservative ruling People’s Party (Partido Popular), were stalling the bill due to an unwillingness to endanger their own political careers on such controversial legislation.

Toying with the Rights of Women in Spain

The Spanish Government’s next Cabinet meeting is Friday 29th of August, the first after the summer recess. Political analysts explain that the bill must be passed on this date or early September to avoid it coinciding with the Popular Party‘s electoral campaign in the upcoming autonomic and municipal elections in May 2015. Otherwise the bill will most definitely be postponed until the general election in November 2015. Women in Spain, feminist and prochoice organizations remain hopeful yet vigilant. The Madrid Feminist Assembly stated it was tired of the Government toying with the rights of women and has organised a national protest for the 28th of September, the global day for action for access to safe and legal abortion. My Belly is Mine will be supporting this action alongside other prochoice organizations in an event in London, soon to be announced.

My Belly is Mine in Wombastic!

My Belly is Mine are very proud to feature in Wombastic Tumblr, an amazingly creative tumblr which showcases the work of illustrators, artists and photographers, who all use art to fight against the Spanish antiabortion legislation in the most imaginative ways possible.

The photographs of My Belly is Mine campaigner Amanda Lundstedt with Big Ben in the background were taken by Spanish photographer Cristina Cuevas for the “Spot the Difference” campaign. These contrasting photos of Amanda are now part of the Wombastic Tumblr. We use many of the fantastic images from the tumblr on our blog. Here’s a selection but be sure to check out the web page for yourself.

 

Our Summer Campaign Continues…

Yesterday, we protested in central London once more against the barbaric antiabortion law proposed by the Spanish government. The action was jointly organized by My Belly is Mine, the Spanish Women’s Assembly and Irish prochoice activists Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. and took place beside one of London’s most iconic bridges, Tower Bridge, opposite the Tower of London.

Yesterday’s action is the fourth co-organized by Spanish, Irish and British activists as part of an intense summer campaign to protest against the Spanish antiabortion draft bill from London. Previously, we protested during the British Spanish Society’s summer reception at the Spanish Embassy in Belgravia, on the 27th of June  -again in front of the Spanish Embassy, and in the London Underground.

Our protests will continue until the law is withdrawn.

Photography: Elisa and Andrea (Spanish Women’s Assembly)

Repeating Histories: Irish and Spanish Prochoice Activism in London in the 80s and Now (VIDEO)

British, Spanish and Irish feminist prochoice collectives My Belly is Mine, the Spanish Women’s Assembly and Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. will perform a protest action on the 2nd of August in central London to raise awareness of the Spanish anti-abortion bill, known as Gallardón’s law. The bill is soon to be presented in the Spanish Parliament. The action will also officially launch the new Spanish Women’s Abortion Support Group (SWASG 2.0), which aims to provide practical assistance for Spanish women travelling abroad to terminate pregnancies, should the bill be passed. This support group is the London branch of the International Federica Montseny Network, an initiative developed by Spanish feminists in Berlin.

Abortion Support Groups in London the 80s

This is not the first time a support group such as SWASG 2.0 has operated in London. Abortion Support Network currently helps many women from Ireland to have abortions in the UK each year. Abortion has never been decriminalised in the Irish Republic, whilst in Spain, abortion on request up till 14 weeks has only been available since 2010 and is now under threat by the antiabortion bill. In the early 80s, Ann Rossiter and Isabel Ros López, Irish and Spanish activists, both helped to set up the Irish Women’s Abortion Support Group (IWASG) and the Spanish Women’s Abortion Support Group (SWASG) respectively. In 1982, a staggering 21,000 women came from Spain to have abortions in England; over 8000 women came from Ireland, approximately 6000 of them from the Republic and the other 2000 from the six counties.

Prochoice campaigners now have the opportunity to hear Ann and Isabel explain why and how they set up the Irish and Spanish abortion support groups. The film Repeating Histories, produced by My Belly is Mine, Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A and the London Irish Feminist Network (LIFN), features Ann and Isabel in conversation at The Feminist Library. Ann remembers:

“With all these women coming… we wondered what in the hell we could do. And it’s important to say that this was very small scale. By today’s standards, things were quite primitive.”

In the film, Ann and Isabel share their experiences of volunteering in both support groups: they describe the organisation and the day to day of these support operations, how they managed to procure special deals for the women at clinics and raise funds; they tell too of the international spirit of cooperation of prochoice activists at that time. Ann also warns of the difficult decisions and financial costs Spanish women will have to bear if Gallardón’s antiabortion law is passed.

Repeating Histories: A New Wave of Irish and Spanish Prochoice Activism in London

Ann and Isabel often collaborate with Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. and My Belly is Mine in prochoice actions. Isabel is also an advisor to SWASG 2.o.  In fact, the name SWASG 2.o was chosen as a tribute to the work of Isabel and her colleagues. Not only national links are forged with this current wave of Irish and Spanish prochoice activism in the British capital, but also intergenerational ones.

For the 2 minute trailer of Repeating Histories, click here.

For the version with Spanish subtitles, click here.

Red Federica Montseny: los inicios

En mayo de 2014, Feminismos Berlín, la asamblea feminista del 15M de Berlín, y que es también parte de Marea Granate, (grupo que surgió del movimiento 15M y que está formado por exiliados en el extranjero), contactó a todos sus equivalentes alrededor de Europa.

Feminismos Berlín expresó lo importante que les parecía desarrollar una red de apoyo para mujeres que posiblemente tendrían que verse forzadas a viajar al extranjero para poder abortar, una vez que la ley antiaborto en España fuese aprobada. Bautizaron esta red como “Federica Montseny” (1905-94), en honor a la intelectual y anarquista española, que fue pionera entre las mujeres en Europa por desempeñar el cargo de Ministra de Salud en el Consejo de Ministros, en 1936. Montseny era también conocida por sus políticas legislativas pro-elección.

Federica Montseny: legisladora pro-elección y una de las primeras mujeres en Europa nombrada ministra del consejo.

Federica Montseny: legisladora pro-elección y una de las primeras mujeres en Europa nombrada ministra del consejo.

La Asamblea de Mujeres de Londres, que surgió del movimiento 15M en Londres, ha asumido la responsabilidad de crear la red de apoyo correspondiente en la capital británica para mujeres que se vean forzadas a viajar desde España para interrumpir su embarazo. Es una responsabilidad de peso y la están asumiendo muy seriamente. Ya se han reunido con una representante de “Abortion Support Network”, para conocer y aprender de su modelo de trabajo y sobre cómo esta charity (término equivalente a ONG o a organización sin ánimo de lucro), apoya a las casi 5000 mujeres al año que viajan a Reino Unido desde Irlanda para que les pueda ser practicado un aborto.

Portada de la primera edición de la revista de El País, (1976), mostrando el reportaje: “Abortar en Londres”.

La Asamblea de Mujeres se encuentra en la fase de primeras planificaciones y recaudaciones de cara a organizar la red, y este blog documentará la evolución de su historia. A diferencia de la falsa agencia de viajes que ofrecía “paquetes de viaje para abortar” en Londres, la Red Federica Montseny no es un bulo. Muy al contrario, ejemplifica la triste realidad a la que las mujeres españolas se tendrán que enfrentar si la legislación antiaborto de Gallardón sigue adelante.

Traducción del inglés: Isa (Asamblea de Mujeres)

Who’s going to the party? II

Just another selection of the lovely people who are attending the antichoice conference in Madrid today. There will be a nice official reception hosted by the mayoress of Madrid, Ana Botella, later on in the day. Such fun.

Christine Boutin

This French ex-MP, who claims Spain is spearheading progress with its antiabortion law, stated on one point ” We are being overrun with gays“.

Carlo Casini

Head of the Italian antichoice movement, Carlo Casini, a MEP, declared: “Both child and mother are victims of abortion”.

Jan Figel

Jan Figel, vice-president of the Slovakian parliament, halted the gay marriage bill in his country. Although gay marriage finally became legal this year, Figel is adamant that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

Christopher O. Tollefsen

Tollefsen is professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina and co-author of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life. According to El Diario, he is quoted as saying: “I think it’s normal for a prolifer (sic) opposed to abortion to become a prolifer (sic) who advocates chastity in and out of marriage”. Figure that one out.

Who’s going to the party?

Today and tomorrow, to the shame of Spain, a reputedly 21st century European country, an antichoice conference, organised by the Popular Party (Spain’s governing conservative party) will be held in the capital city of Madrid. The conference is called “The International Seminar on the Right to Life” and  Madrid’s mayoress Ana Botella (wife of creepy ex-conservative PM José María Aznar) will be welcoming attendees with open arms via an official reception.

Abortion is murder, yadda yadda yadda…

Parliamentarians, professors of philosophy and of genetics, ex-MPs, ex-European commissioners, amongst others, are just some of the attendees at this antichoice knees up, designed to provide Gallardón’s antiabortion bill with international scientific and legislative authority and credibility. This jolly was intended to end with an official statement, to be known as “The Madrid Declaration”, which would state that abortion is murder, yadda yadda yadda… However, and to the surprise of the attendees, Gallardón, the rising star of the antiabortion movement, withdrew from the conference at the very last minute due to some report or another on the bill not being ready.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer

Spanish daily, El Diario, has put together a little collection of some of the more memorable phrases of the conference’s attendees. Unsurprisingly, all of them are antichoice, against LGBT rights and are all for the traditional nuclear family. Over the next few days, we shall be introducing you to them. Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer, as they say… Today we start with Cristina Reyes, onetime winner of “Queen of Guayaquil”:

Cristina Reyes, winner of “Queen of Guayaquil”

Cristina Reyes is an ex-beauty contest winner and now an Ecuadorian MP. She happily cites on her CV her achievements in the beauty pageant world, including her participation in “Miss International World”. Referring to abortion legislation in her country in 2008, Ms Reyes asked: “Do we want a country in which thousands of children are murdered?” She has also said: “The right to choose justifies a total crime”.

Gallardón backtracks (or rather, is told to backtrack)

Last Friday we protested at the Spanish Embassy in London against the abortion bill.  The date was June 27th and we chose that day to coincide with a multitude o f protests in Spain and abroad, taking the lead from the Feminist Federation in Madrid. June 27th was the day that the antiabortion bill was to begin its parliamentary process. On the day of the protest, we were informed the bill’s entry to parliament had been delayed a week. The bill’s progress to parliament had been postponed by the government to specifically coincide with the foul antichoice conference held in the Spanish capital today and tomorrow. Despite this unexpected announcement, protests worldwide went ahead, as did ours, last Friday, and more demos are scheduled in Spain this week and elsewhere to overlap with the antiabortion conference. We ourselves have something special planned in London for today and tomorrow but more about that later…

Gallardón’s lack of attendance at the Madrid antichoice conference is major coup for prochoice campaigners

Gallardón was scheduled to attend the antichoice conference to bang on about how great his bill is. But to everyone’s surprise Gallardón has pulled out at the very last minute from programme. The reason being, if we are to believe his spokesperson, that official reports on the draft bill are still pending and therefore Gallardón has not had time to edit the last draft and determine its final details. The Minister is apparently unwilling to do a presentation on an unsettled bill in front of his antichoice cronies.

Gallardón develops stage fright.

Gallardón is not exactly known for his self-doubt, in fact, he is known for quite the opposite as last year has shown: he has defiantly clung to his bill, unperturbed in the face of relentless criticism, steadfast in his belief that his law is a morally correct one. We have to presume that Gallardón’s present hesitancy is due to something other than a crisis of confidence. The Spanish PM, Mariano Rajoy, forever the coward, prefers controversial issues to be resolved as quietly as possible. Well, this was never going to happen, what with socialists in the lower house deliberately scheduling a prochoice convention to go head to head with the antichoice convention. Indeed, Spanish media had their tents pitched up and their popcorn ready for the face off. Gallardón’s sudden withdrawal from the antichoice meeting has, as one newspaper put it, clearly “deflated the soufflé”.

Keep fighting, keep spreading the word

But what does this mean for us? It means that we keep fighting: as the bill’s controversy continues to gain international attention, the Spanish government’s embarrassment over this barbaric law grows, whilst Rajoy and other members of the Partido Popular get ever more uncomfortable and impatient with Alberto’s political gambling. Gallardón’s lack of attendance at the Madrid antichoice conference is therefore a major coup for prochoice campaigners. Don’t think that little retweet or your presence at a demo don’t count, because they do. Help Spanish women defeat the bill: spread the word about My Belly is Mine and join the campaign!

 

Summer Campaign 2014

My Belly is Mine has teamed up with the Women’s Assembly from the London 15M Movement and Irish prochoice activists Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A to run a summer long campaign against the Spanish antiabortion law.

Members of the Spanish Women's Assembly

Members of the Spanish Women’s Assembly

IMELDA

Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. in red at St Patrick’s day celebrations in London

We will be popping up unexpectedly throughout London during the upcoming months to raise awareness of this issue. If you are keen to participate in some easy, safe and peaceful prochoice performances in London this summer, you can email us at mybellyismine@gmail.com.

My Belly is Mine campaigners

My Belly is Mine campaigners