The law that guarantees sick leave due to incapacitating menstruation reaches Congress

The Minister of Equality, Irene Montero during the extraordinary session in the Congress of Deputies last week. / EFE

The Government approves the rule that allows 16 and 17-year-old girls to interrupt pregnancy without parental authorization and that creates a prenatal permit

Alfonso Torres

This morning the Council of Ministers will give the definitive approval to the new sexual and reproductive health law promoted by the Minister for Equality, Irene Montero. The rule, in addition to shielding the right to the free voluntary interruption of pregnancy in public centers close to the place of residence for all residents in Spain over 16 years of age, will create, for the first time in Europe, a temporary medical leave for those who suffer menstruation incapacitating.

The two partners of the Executive will immediately send the bill to Congress since they hope that this new abortion law is approved by the two legislative chambers and in a position to enter into force before the end of this year, which will require a process of utmost urgency.

The rule, which also creates paid prenatal leave from the 39th week of gestation and guarantees the right to convalence time for anyone who suffers an abortion, reverses the counter-reform approved alone by the PP in 2015, so that, once the new text is published in the BOE, girls aged 16 and 17 will no longer need parental permission to voluntarily interrupt their pregnancy, nor will it be necessary for any woman to wait three days as a period of reflection.

Montero disfigures the CGPJ that has not issued its opinion on the abortion law

The text, which considers surrogacy to be violence against women, guarantees public financing of all contraceptive treatments and tries to end the abuse of some obstetric procedures such as caesarean sections.

Here are some of the main points of the bill:

Free in the first 14 weeks

The terms do not vary with respect to the 2010 law. The limit for the voluntary interruption of pregnancy is the first 14 weeks of gestation, but it allows interruption up to 22 weeks if there are fetal malformations or life-threatening risks for the mother.

without parental permission

Girls aged 16 and 17 or those with some type of intellectual disability no longer need parental permission to be able to abort.

No reflection period

It abolishes the three-day reflection period, the time that by law the woman had to wait before being able to ratify her intention to abort. Similarly, she will stop receiving unless explicitly requested by the sealed envelope with information about maternity support aid.

in public hospitals

The central point of the new law is that it guarantees abortions in public hospitals. To achieve this, it more strictly regulates conscientious objection. There will be a regional registry so that the authorities can organize the services and ensure that there will always be a specialist prepared. The objection will be personal, prior, in writing and will veto abortions in both public and private.

As close to home as possible

The woman will have the right to have the interruption done in the public center closest to her home, be it in her region or in a neighboring one. They want to put an end to the ordeal of many Spanish women who have had to travel hundreds of kilometers because where they live not a single center performs abortions.

New specific phone

A new free telephone number, type 016, will inform pregnant women, help them choose an abortion method, direct them to the indicated hospital or center and tell them what to do if they get in the way.

State-of-the-art methods

The law guarantees public financing of all hormonal contraceptive methods (pills, patches, rings or intrauterine devices), with preference for the latest generation. In a year there will be campaigns in institutes, social centers and prisons in which barrier contraceptive methods, both male and female, will be distributed.

morning after pill

The autonomies will create sexual and reproductive care centers that will give the morning-after pill for free (now it costs 20 euros in pharmacies) and that will guarantee the woman who goes to have an abortion (choose a surgical or pharmacological method) that she will have specialized support.

"It's over being pilled"

Create a specific leave so that women with very painful and incapacitating menstruations can rest at home. The leave will be paid in full by the State and does not set a specific number of days. There are no limits, it will be the doctor who determines the duration. It will not be necessary to have a minimum quoted time. "She is finished going to work pilled to endure the pain," said Minister Montero.

prenatal leave

All pregnant women are entitled to sick leave from week 39 until delivery. The permit has dwindled during the negotiation. Equality has been asking for it since week 36. In the end, pregnant women will have an average of one week instead of the four that were initially considered.

discharge due to abortion

It includes a leave for women who suffer an interruption of pregnancy, whether voluntary or unwanted. Convalescence, without a fixed duration, seeks to alleviate situations of both physical and emotional incapacity.

Does not touch the 'pink rate'

The text does not contemplate neither the abolition nor the reduction of VAT on feminine hygiene products. However, Montero defends that at least the reduction from the current 10% to 4% will be achieved by 2023, in the negotiation of the Budgets. What the law does provide for is the free distribution of these products in institutes, prisons, women's centers and civic and social centers.

Fines to intermediaries

Surrogacy is an illegal practice in Spain that is now defined as "reproductive exploitation" and as an act of violence against women. The advertising of intermediaries (agencies, clinics and lawyers) who circumvent the law by putting Spaniards in contact with wombs abroad and managing the process will be prohibited and sanctioned.

End of abusive caesarean sections

Hospitals will have identical protocols for good medical practices at all stages of pregnancy, especially childbirth and postpartum. The informed consent of the patient must always be obtained, who will be the one who decides which procedures she authorizes and which she does not. The abuse of caesarean sections and episiotomies will be persecuted.

Other violence against women

In addition to surrogacy, the text also explicitly includes as forms of violence against women, prohibited and prosecutable in Spain, the forced sterilization of women with intellectual disabilities and forced pregnancy and abortion.

Cost of the reforms

The benefits created by the rule have a cost of just over 100 million euros a year, with prenatal leave and menstrual leave as the main expenses and abortion leave in third place.

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