The Government sends to Congress the law that extends the right to abortion and regulates conscientious objection

The Council of Ministers approved this Tuesday in the second round sexual and reproductive health law which contains, among other things, an abortion reform that restores the right of minors under 16 and 17 years of age to voluntarily interrupt their pregnancies without parental permission and that seeks to guarantee this provision in the public health service. The norm, which is an organic law that modifies the current 2/2010, is being urgently processed so that its approval arrives before the end of the legislature. It was in May when it came to the Council of Ministers for the first time and, since then, it has collected the reports of the pertinent advisory bodies. Although not all of them have arrived, the norm is already on its way to Congress and the Senate, where it can undergo changes and where the confrontation of the rights is expected.

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The Minister of Equality, Irene Montero, has remarked that sexual and reproductive rights "are a fundamental measure of the democratic quality of a country". "The right to decide about our body is part of the right to health and the gateway to the exercise of many other rights and the possibility of deciding our life projects," said Montero, who had words of thanks for the ministries involved in the norm, but also for the Prime Minister of Equality, Bibiana Aído, for the Freedom Train “and all the mobilizations that prevented the reduction of rights.”

From May to this part, the bulk of the text has barely changed. Yes, some modifications have been incorporated, as a result of consultation with social entities, and which are aimed, in the words of the Government, at strengthening the decision-making capacity of women "in all circumstances". The norm regulates the conscientious objection of professionals and obliges the communities to create a register of objectors. During the consultation period of these months, a new additional provision has been added to "extreme" the guarantees in data protection related to this registry, which comes from a recommendation of the Spanish Agency for Data Protection.

Public services will have to organize their resources so that there are always enough professionals to carry out the service. Interventions must be carried out "in a public health center" and only "exceptionally" in an accredited private one. “We make the right to conscientious objection compatible with the right of all women to voluntarily interrupt their pregnancy if they so wish”, said the Minister for Equality. Currently, until 85% of abortions They are carried out in concerted private clinics.

Minors under the age of 16 and 17 regain the right to have an abortion without the consent of their families or guardians. The 2010 term law recognized this right, but the Rajoy government restricted it in 2015. It did so after the failed attempt by the then Minister of Justice, Alberto Ruiz Gallardón, to approve an abortion reform that would have meant a cut in the right of abortion for all women.

The rule also eliminates the three-day reflection period established by the law of deadlines: once the decision was made, women had to wait three days to be able to undergo the intervention and receive an envelope with information on maternity aid. Here, the current text has also undergone a modification: it eliminates from the Penal Code the crime of not delivering the envelope with information and of not respecting the three days of reflection to make it consistent with the new law.

Informed consent

Another of the most significant changes that the text has undergone is the one that has to do with informed consent in procedures that have to do with childbirth. In its first version, it spoke of requiring “free, prior and informed” consent in all invasive treatments during delivery care, “except in situations in which the life of the mother or the baby is at risk, respecting the autonomy of women and their ability to make informed decisions about their reproductive health”. After the consultation period, the Government has eliminated the "except in situations in which the life of the mother or the baby is at risk" to be consistent, they explain, "with the Patient Autonomy Law." During the consultation period, the ministry received up to 1,441 contributions in this regard. Thus, informed consent must be obtained in all cases.

Although finally the text does not include the term “obstetric violence”, the minister stressed that the law includes the implementation of a common protocol so that the European guidelines and recommendations on respected childbirth "reach all hospitals and delivery rooms in this country". She has also added a section to "guarantee assistance and accompaniment" for the mental health of women in the event of perinatal death.

menstrual losses

Another of the most relevant chapters of the law is the one that has to do with menstrual health, which for the first time is recognized "as an inherent part of the right to sexual and reproductive health." will launch a temporary disability due to incapacitating menstruation. It is a medical leave that will be financed from the first day by Social Security and for which a minimum contribution period will not be necessary, as is the case with common illnesses. "It's over going to work with pain," remarked Irene Montero. This norm, she underlined, will help to break the taboo of menstruation and normalize talking about it and menstrual health. The Government has also introduced a small change in this regard so that both this leave and the one that pregnant women may request one month before giving birth are extended to officials of the armed forces and justice. This prepartum leave may be requested from the 39th week of pregnancy and will not subtract time from maternity leave.

During this period of consultations, the rule has also included a reinforcement of training in sexual and reproductive health in legal, health, education and social sciences careers "and in the curricula of the oppositions linked to these". In addition, it has eliminated the validity period of the Sexual and Reproductive Health Strategy.

Educational centers must guarantee access to products for the rule "when necessary", specifies the law. They will also be distributed free of charge in social service centers and prisons. Progressively, all dependencies of public organizations must adopt this measure. Sustainable, organic and eco-friendly menstrual management products will be prioritized.

Sex education

“We guarantee the right to sexual education”, said Irene Montero. It will be mandatory in all educational stages "to know our bodies, to establish relationships from good treatment, to know the different contraceptive methods, which are not just a problem for women, to prevent sexually transmitted infections." The lack of sexual education, she has added, is behind the increase of up to 80% in this type of infection.

Montero has provided another piece of information: almost 70% of high school students say that the sexual education they received has not been useful for their sexual life, while the Internet is a source of learning for a good part of them. "Learning about sexuality takes place with or without adequate learning and this Government wants to ensure what is a right of girls, boys, and adolescents, which is access to comprehensive sexual education," she stated.

The norm contemplates the free distribution of barrier contraceptive methods in schools and other public centers. It expands the financing of next-generation contraceptive methods and establishes free access to the morning-after pill in health centers. The pill must also be available on a compulsory basis in all pharmacies.

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