Pro -choice graffiti with the group's slogan, 'Get your rosaries off my ovaries', has appeared on the walls of four churches in Malaga.
Every year, more than 5,000 women in Malaga province voluntarily decide to end their pregnancy. The vast majority, more than 97 per cent, do so for personal, economic or social reasons, something that was permitted by the law of 2010 which allowed any abortions to be carried out within the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. However, the arguments put forward by these women will not be sufficient to enable them to have an abortion when a new law, the draft of which was approved a few days ago, comes into force.
The future Law of Protection of the Life of the Foetus and the Rights of Women will only enable women to have an abortion financed with public money for two reasons:: rape, in which case an abortion will be possible within the first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and risk to the mother’s psychiatric and physical health, in the first 22 weeks. If this new regulation were to be applied strictly to the recent abortion figures published by the Ministry of Health, of the 5,116 abortions carried out in approved clinics in Malaga province in 2012, only 119, or barely three per cent, would fit these criteria: 107 due to serious risk to the life or health of the pregnant woman and 12 for foetal abnormalities which are incompatible with life or extremely serious and incurable illness. Nearly all the abortions, - 4,898 - were carried out for personal reaons and 99 per cent of these were for risk of malformation of the foetus, two categories which will not be included in the new law and something that has provoked strong criticism.
In the case of malformations, a pregnancy can be terminated within the first 22 weeks only if there is a serious risk to the psychiatric health of the woman which is caused by the existence in the foetus of an anomaly incompatible with life.
Also, says the Malaga representative of the Association of Approved Clinics for the Interruption of Pregnancy (ACAI), Alberto Stolzenburg, the women who are exempt under this law because to continue with the pregnancy could endanger their life will encounter difficulties because they will have to present two independent medical reports to the clinic where the abortion will be carried out. This condition will only not be applicable if there is an emergency and the woman’s life is at risk.
According to Alberto Stolzenburg, it will be especially difficult to find specialists to issue reports stating psychiatric problems. “In Spain the number of psychiatrists is lower than the average in other countries and they have already warned that they are not going to take on tasks which do not correspond to them”, he says..
Among its arguments against the new regulation,, ACAI explains that the law of 2010, which is still in force, has not resulted in any increase in voluntary terminations of pregnancy. However, in Malaga there has been an increase from 4,977 cases in 2009 to 5,116 registered last year. Nevertheless, in comparison with 2011 there was a slight reduction of 71 abortions which the president of the association, Francisca García, says is related to the flow of migrants and the availability of the morning-after pill.
As well as eliminating free abortion, another change included in the draft law approved by the government is that parental authorisation will once again be necessary for under-age girls. In Malaga last year, 600 girls aged between 15 and 19 - the Ministry does not give more detailed information - terminated their pregnancies; in 2009 there were 615. Of the under-age girls who went to approved clinics to terminate their pregnancies, only 10 per cent were without their parents, according to the ACAI.
In Malaga, four clinics are authorised to carry out abortions–Atocha Ginecológica, Ginecenter, Clínica El Sur andSáez de Santa María–, of whom the first three also work with the Andalusian Health Service, which refers cases to them. A woman who wants to terminate her pregnancy and fits the criteria has to go to her GP first and will be given information about the different techniques and also about help that is available for mothers. If after three days she still wants an abortion, ,she will be referred to an approved clinic.