Voluntary abortions in the Canary Islands are carried out as a rule in concerted clinics

Archive image of a demonstration in favor of abortion held in Madrid. / C7

The reform of the law foresees that the public system assumes the interruptions of pregnancy. Of the 4,728 carried out in 2020 on the islands, a small part fell on public hospitals

Carmen Delia Aranda

The reform of the Organic Law of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancyapproved by the Council of Ministers on May 17,
contemplates that abortions be carried out in public health centers and only exceptionally in accredited private centers.

If the bill is successful, it will have to go through the advisory bodies, the General Council of the Judiciary and the Council of State,
the Canarian public system should be strengthened to offer this service, which is currently provided almost entirely by concerted clinics. Specifically, two in Gran Canaria and as many in Tenerife, in addition to an accredited center in Fuerteventura.

“Right now in the Canary Islands, most abortions are performed in concerted centers.
The percentage of those carried out in public centers is minimal», says the general director of Assistance Programs of the Canary Islands Health Service, Elizabeth Hernández.

With these referrals, he affirms, it is avoided to further saturate public health and compliance with the stipulated deadlines for carrying out interruptions is guaranteed.

“In the islands outside the capital, there are significant tensions: difficulties because there are not enough personnel or because of the availability of operating rooms or anesthesiologists,” says the health manager. “Abortions have their deadlines and we must comply as soon as possible. You can't wait for an operating room », she says.

Without resources in non-capital islands

Also,
the reform of the law plans to put an end to the transfer hundreds of kilometers of those who need an abortion. A problem that affects Canarian women from non-capital islands who, voluntarily or for medical reasons, need to interrupt their pregnancy since, except for those from Fuerteventura, the rest must travel to Gran Canaria and Tenerife to undergo this intervention.

«In the non-capital islands, we offer it there if we have an accredited concerted center at our disposal. We recently had one in Fuerteventura.
Where we do not have a center at our disposal, as in Lanzarote, we offer it in Gran Canaria», explains the General Director of Assistance Programs.

In any case, the health manager says that women from non-capital islands who decide to have an abortion, for the most part, "ask not to do it in their own environment."

for now,
the Canarian Health Service is calibrating the effect and the resources that the application of the law will require, in case of success. "We have a working group that will analyze the law to respond in a timely manner to a service to which women are entitled," says Hernández, who understands that this reform seeks to guarantee abortion "in communities where access to this is being made difficult." provision in time and form.

sixth highest rate

In the Canary Islands, in 2020, 4,784 pregnancy interruptions were performed. This total includes voluntary abortions performed at the request of women within the first 14 weeks and those performed for medical reasons, that is, because the pregnancy endangers the health or life of the woman or because the fetus is at risk of harm. a serious anomaly, incompatible with life or incurable.

“In the case of women who abort at their own request, the area directorates manage this type of case that is referred to concerted centers,” explains Elizabeth Hernández, who estimates that there were around 4,500 voluntary interruptions carried out in 2020 and around 200 those carried out for medical reasons.

In the Canary Islands, that year, the
abortion rates per 1,000 women between 15 and 44 years old was 10.88%, the sixth highest in the country.

"Management in public hospitals will improve care for women"

The reform of the law that regulates abortion will mean, a priori, a positive change for Canarian women who find themselves in need of an abortion, according to the head of the Obstetrics and Gynecology Service of the Maternal and Child University Hospital of the Canary Islands, Alicia Martín .

In the opinion of the specialist, in addition to de-stigmatizing abortion, the fact that public hospitals assume the interruption of pregnancy will improve care for these women. "Currently abortion is practiced without applying a comprehensive vision of women that includes advice and planning for the future," says the gynecologist who recognizes that, in the case of voluntary abortions, the role of public hospitals is reduced to intervene in cases with complications.

In addition, Martín maintains that the intervention of public health centers will vary the type of abortion management. According to the gynecologist, public hospitals follow a clinical guide that considers pharmacological abortion as the first option, avoiding surgical intervention. However, in most of the concerted clinics, suction curettage is chosen in the first instance. "In hospitals, the clinical guide for the management of abortion does not respond to the taste of any interest but to the greater benefit of the woman," comments the head of the Maternal and Child Obstetrics and Gynecology Service.

The new law, says Martín, will mean a change of perspective regarding the way of intervening and will relegate mechanical abortion to the background, which produces a higher cost, morbidity and healthcare pressure.

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