Madrid Feminist Assembly

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.

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Latest updates on Gallardón’s Law

The already delayed parliamentary process of Gallardón’s antiabortion bill may be halted once more, according to Spanish government sources. The bill, scheduled to enter parliament on 27th of June, was delayed until the 4th of July to coincide with the antichoice conference in Madrid. Feminist organizations protested on both dates and the intervening week in Spain and abroad. Gallardón’s unexpected absence from the antichoice conference prompted the government to confirm the draft bill is still awaiting official reports from various consultative bodies. Furthermore, once these reports have been completed, the draft bill will then be sent to the Spanish Council of State, the supreme consultative body of the Spanish government, which only advises parliament on the most serious matters and legislation.

Palace of the Councils, Madrid

This means that the bill’s parliamentary process could be extended for months due to the complex procedure the Council adheres to. Spanish feminist and prochoice organisations have cautiously welcomed this news. As Justa Montero, spokesperson for Madrid Feminist Assembly explains: “If the bill has not entered parliament within six months, the deadline will have passed and they must wait for another legislative period to begin…and then we shall see.” Montero hopefully added that “in 2009 the Council of State unanimously approved the report recommending the 2010 abortion law“. The Ministry of Justice, on the other hand, has stated that the Council of State’s report may not be absolutely necessary for the draft bill to be debated in parliament, thus speeding up once more its legislative progress.

This news leaves prochoice campaigners on tenterhooks, as it is no guarantee that the draft bill will not eventually be passed.