Coercion, threats, insults … This is the treatment women receive at the doors of the centers that guarantee the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy (IVE) in Spain. And this is what the Association of Accredited Clinics for the Interruption of Pregnancy (ACAI), together with representatives of social organizations, feminist associations, political parties and trade unions, to the Minister of Health, María Luisa Carcedo, this Thursday in a meeting behind closed doors.
"In recent times we are witnessing an upsurge in the actions of anti-selection and anti-harassment movements with harassment actions in the legal, administrative and public spheres," said a spokesperson for ACAI. This harassment affects, without being exclusive, organizations of sexual and reproductive rights, organizations that fight for the right to a dignified death, associations that defend the rights of LGTBI people. Although the demands made to the minister have focused on "seek protection measures for women who will exercise their right to terminate their pregnancy," specified Gema González Díaz, executive director of the Federation of Spanish Family Planning (FPFE).
José Antonio Bosch, legal advisor of ACAI, has explained that, for several years, "they suffer harassment by groups of 19 people who come to the doors of the clinics with placards that simulate a cemetery, asking women not to do so or even insulting and coercing them. Situations that, in addition, are accentuated in the times of Lent. "Bosch makes reference to the annual campaign 40 days for life, that the ultraconservative and anti-abortion groups carry out at this time.
For these reasons, they have asked the Ministry to create a minimum safety distance before the doors of the clinics, similar to the no smoking at the doors of schools. "90% of women who abort are referred by public health, so they are its users and are not receiving the health care they deserve and should receive," Bosch detailed. And he recalled that other countries have already implemented different measures to prevent women who come to a clinic to undergo a voluntary termination of pregnancy from being criticized by groups opposed to this practice. For example, Germany and Austria have established the minimum distance of security and France has even included as a new crime in the Penal Code the coercion and false information that people who are against abortion transmit to women who are going to practice.
Rosa Sánchez Martín, doctor of the Dator clinic in Madrid, has pointed out that, since its inception in 1986, her center has been subjected to this type of harassment practices. But "in recent years these are practically daily with demonstrations at the doors". In addition to the provision of a medicalized ambulance, which has authorization, and which intends to perform ultrasound scans on pregnant women who come to the clinic with the aim of hearing the fetal heartbeat and renouncing the interruption. He also pointed out that these acts, as "important escraches before the door", have intensified in the face of the current political climate and the emergence of ultra-conservative political parties.
González, for his part, has pointed out that the decision to abort "often does not come from them, but is inevitable due to various medical issues." Although in any situation, "the fact that they call them killers is a very serious psychological damage for them." To which it adds that any type of lawsuit "requires that women be reported because they are considered private crimes but they do not do so to preserve their privacy and these crimes go unpunished," highlighted Bosch.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Health has explained that the minister will not make statements about the meeting. Although Sánchez has described Carcedo's attitude as "friendly and favorable" to the meeting, "despite the fact that the current political situation is not propitious to establish concrete measures with the government in office."