Abortion rights are under attack in Spain, and we must show solidarity with pro-choice struggle.

Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon: Justice Minister championing a law that will result in a brutal injustice to Spanish women's rights.
Alberto Ruiz-Gallardon: Justice Minister championing a law that will result in a brutal injustice to Spanish women’s rights.

The struggle for safe and legal access to abortion is an ongoing one. With many states constantly seeking to review or reduce women’s access to abortion, and in doing so police our bodies and our sexuality, Freedom’s regular contributor Juana Belén Gutiérrez de Mendoza highlights the recent attack on abortion rights in Spain, and why it is necessary to show solidarity and oppose this restrictive and deadly new Act.

Maybe you are a 40 year-old unemployed mother of 5 in the worst recession of our time, maybe you forgot to take the pill and went to bed with a few too many, or perhaps you have been raped. I know many stories of men who won’t put a condom on when you tell them to: from the cheeky student boy trying to trick you on a one night stand (do you think a vagina is too thick to notice you’re not wearing rubber?) to the abusive boyfriend who wants to control every inch of your body. It is very easy when you don’t have a womb (and don’t care about STIs?) The point is, whatever the reason or context, abortion should be safe, legal and accessible to all.

If you think the right to choose to have an abortion on the NHS and without judgement is not important then maybe you need to watch this.

If you are pro-choice then now is the time to show solidarity with women in Spain, who are soon to be condemned to return to the Franco era.

The proposal for the new Protection of the Life of the Conceived and the Rights of the Pregnant Act only establishes two reasons why abortion should be accessible: that it is “necessary” due to “life threatening or serious damage to physical or mental health of the woman” during the first 22 weeks of pregnancy, or that the pregnancy is the result of rape, as long as the termination is carried out in the first 12 weeks and the act has been reported.

The fact that rape survivors have to report the perpetrator before accessing a safe termination has two serious implications;

  1. As it is difficult to go through the legal process, many women will be forced to endure unwanted pregnancies or have unsafe abortions;
  2. Migrant women with precarious visa status will be scared of going to the police and will also be faced with the options of carrying the unwanted pregnancy or a non-safe abortion.

They are also preparing to include malformations in the foetus. They haven’t decided what the difference between “disability” and “malformation” is yet. Not everyone can afford to look after a child with special needs given that the same government proposing the anti-choice law is constantly being taken to court by thousands of disabled people and carers because they refuse to pay their benefits. As usual, right wingers care more about a couple of cells in a womb than those who are already born.

Do us all a favour and stop calling yourselves “pro-life”, you’re clearly pro-death, given that every year around 47,000 women around the world die due to complications in unsafe abortions.

With the 2010 act, less restrictive and based on time frames instead of religious nonsense, the number of abortions was significantly reduced, due to the fact there was also more sex education in schools and easier access to the Morning After Pill. With the new law 91.26% of the terminations carried out in 2012 would be illegal.

Direct action all around Spain has taken many forms, from graffiti and demonstrations, to a recent mass petitioning for excommunication and apostasy in Valencia, and has only managed to piss off the cops, who constantly harass feminist groups, even charging some who were later acquitted because evidence was fabricated. Spanish and feminist activists all over the globe have risen in support of women in Spain. In London you will find My Belly Is Mine (a translation of the popular pro-choice hashtag #MiBomboEsMio) and the Spanish Women’s Assembly (15M movement), who have teamed up with Irish group Speaking of I.M.E.L.D.A. and are supported by veteran activists from Spanish Women’s Abortion Support Group (SWASG), which was active in the 1980s. Spanish feminist migrants in Germany and UK are in the process of setting up a new support network, following the SWASG model, which will be called Red Federica Montseny, after the Spanish anarchist turned Minister for Health during the Civil War, one of the first women to become a cabinet minister in Europe and made the first Spanish pro-choice legislation.

You can support this project by coming to their benefit on Saturday 2nd August from 8pm at LARC, featuring spoken word performances and a bar till late.