The ambulance who is dedicated to doing ultrasounds on the street To try that women who have already made their decision not to abort, it needs volunteers and the Illustrious College of Physicians of Madrid has joined the call. It has done so through one of its newsletters, the one sent by the Board of Retired Doctors every month, called Seniors and aimed at retired physicians to report activities, give advice or reproduce articles. The last one, that of June, last Friday, includes among its pages information about the so-called ‘Life Ambulance’, which goes to the Dator clinic in Madrid on Saturdays to perform an ultrasound scan of women who are going to voluntarily interrupt their pregnancy and thus try to prevent them from entering. “You need volunteer doctors,” reads the ad, which defines the vehicle as “an initiative of volunteers willing to save lives.”
Thousands of women are forced each year to travel to other provinces for abortions
The text includes a link that directs to the web page in which the initiative asks for both drivers and doctors. They specify that they need health personnel “to use the ultrasound machine” and indicate that medical colleges who “want to collaborate” can “fill in the form” and will get in touch. In the publication, the Official College of Physicians replies the request: “If you want to help them, get in touch with them.” And he explains that the ambulance “is a free ultrasound service that is placed every Saturday at the door of an abortion clinic to show the mother the reality of her son and the heartbeat of her baby.” The van was launched in 2016 by the Right to Live platform, one of the major pressure groups against abortion rights in Spain founded by the ultra-Catholic association HazteOír.
The ambulance promotion shares space in the bulletin with conference announcements, opinion articles, advice, curiosities and even travel proposals, and is sent every month by the College’s Board of Retired Physicians, led by Dr. José Ramos. Former deputy head of the Nuclear Medicine Service of the Puerta de Hierro Hospital, was one of the names that completed the candidacy of the cardiologist Manuel Martínez-Sellés, current president of the college contrary to euthanasia and abortion. The text is accompanied precisely by a photograph in which Ramos appears inside what appears to be the ultrasound van.
The vehicle activity is one more piece of the activity that ultra-Catholics carry out in abortion clinics to discourage women from aborting and which has returned to the agenda this week. The PSOE has picked up the glove of the Association of Clinics for the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy (ACAI), who has been denouncing for years “harassment” and “persecution” suffered by women, and has registered a bill in Congress to include it in the Penal Code.
To questions from this medium, the Madrid College of Physicians argues that the request for volunteers for the ‘Ambulancia Vida’ “is not a position” of the school “nor does it express an official position” and frames the fact “in an initiative at the request of the Board of Retired Doctors “. The same sources reiterate that the newsletter “is internal” and “conveys concerns, news, advice or activities that may interest retirees”: “Not all of them are of interest to everyone”, they answer the question about whether this type of content represents the retired doctors. The publication “is represented by the member and has no filters other than what it wants to communicate,” adds the school, which insists that it is “an initiative of a member that has not passed through the Board or has been debated.” . Asked about the advisability of Ramos giving support from his position of representation to an initiative contrary to the abortion law in force in Spain and include his photo in the vehicle, the body points out again that “it is his initiative” and adduces to ” the freedom “of the vowel.
It is not the first time that the van has been talked about; already in 2019 it jumped to the media because Gádor Joya, doctor and Vox deputy in the Madrid Assembly, confirmed then that she was one of the health companies that performed these ultrasounds at the doors of the clinics. “I have been doing ultrasounds on these women” and “most, when they have heard the heartbeat of their child, have decided to go ahead with their pregnancy,” said the former spokesperson for Right to Live. In the HazteOír video in which she disseminated her activity, and in which both Joya and Poveda appear, you can see how a gynecologist performs an ultrasound on a pregnant woman. The Vox parliamentarian explains that “the heartbeat shows that there is a human life there that ceases to exist the moment an abortion is performed.”
“It is the hope of unborn babies”
With that same story the ambulance website defines its task: “It is the hope for unborn babies,” he says in a text that is accompanied by an audio player that emits the sound of a heartbeat. With this vehicle, they say, “we serve women at risk of abortion throughout the Community of Madrid.” According to Sonia Lamas, Millán, Dator’s Communication Manager, the ‘ambulance’ stopped coming to the clinic during confinement, but in June, once the state of alarm subsided, it returned. It usually goes on Saturday mornings, and is placed on the sidewalk in front of the center. “He is not at the door, but there are groups of between ten and twenty people, it depends on the day, who come to intercept the women, give them brochures, tell them that in the ambulance they give them a second opinion and give them a second opinion Free ultrasound. Inside they put the heartbeat and the image and tell them that they are going to give them help to try to convince them, “explains Lamas.
Last Saturday the vehicle came, confirms the clinic worker, while other people distributed leaflets to the women. “If you ask those who are at the doors, they tell you that they are not from the ambulance,” adds the worker, but in the brochures that they give to the clinic users there is a reference in which they encourage women to go to the ambulance, which “performs FREE complete ultrasounds with a second medical opinion”, reads the text of one of them.
The discourse used by the ambulance promoters is the usual one of the groups that stand at the doors of the clinics to dissuade women. It not only happens in Madrid, but also in other cities such as Murcia or Albacete they are used to dealing with this problem that has not even stopped the coronavirus pandemic. They are anti-abortionists who, rosary in hand, distribute brochures offering help, with false information, display their banners with proclamations against abortion or intercept women to convince them not to enter. Sometimes they stand near the center, farther from the door, and pray.
Its activity is not new. The 2010 abortion law worsened, but clinics had already suffered from this persecution before. More than 60 groups led by ACAI came together on a platform a couple of years ago with the aim of forming a common front and demanding that the institutions take action on an issue that has consequences for women. The first step has been taken by the PSOE, which has registered a bill in Congress to punish whoever does it with prison terms of three months to a year or work for the benefit of the community, following the path of France. The most conservative sectors are opposed and have taken the measure as an “attack on pro-life”, but in reality it is about this type of group that intercepts women once they have already done the entire abortion procedure.
From ACAI they celebrate the proposal of the PSOE, but they ask for greater ambition with the door in motion of measures such as the so-called ‘security zones’ around clinics that already exist in other countries. The Ministry of Equality, for its part, is committed to ensuring “protection” of the centers through the reform of the Abortion Law that will be promoted by the Women’s Institute, but the formula “has yet to be decided,” confirm sources from the department led by Irene Montero.