Irene Montero, the Minister for Equality / EFE

New law in Spain will protect women’s abortion rights and allow them to be signed off sick for incapacitating period pain

The Spanish government has now passed the Law of Sexual and Reproductive Health to parliament and says it hopes it will be approved and in force by the end of this year

ALFONSO TORICES Madrid

Spain’s Cabinet has now sent parliament the draft law that protects the right of all women to voluntarily end their pregnancy in the hospital closest to their home and guarantees that no woman has to go to work when suffering painful and disabling menstruation, and asked for it to be approved as a matter of urgency.

The law, which the government hopes will be in force by the end of the year, includes a register so that doctors who are not prepared to carry out abortions can exercise their right to conscientious objection, and will oblige regional governments to ensure that in every hospital there is at least one doctor who will comply with women’s right to voluntarily end their pregnancy.

At present there are ways of preventing this right being exercised, which explains why 85% of abortions are carried out in private clinics, the 38 hospitals in Madrid do not carry out abortions and in nine provinces none have been carried out since abortion became legal in 1985.

This is the first law in Europe which will include disabling menstruation as a reason to be signed off sick from work, with no minimum contribution period and no limit to the number of days. “No more having to go to work in great pain. Periods are no longer going to be taboo,” said Irene Montero, the Minister for Equality.

The law of sexual and reproductive health, which also includes paid prenatal leave from the 39th week of pregnancy and guarantees the right to paid convalescence for anyone who has an abortion or miscarriage, will give girls aged 16 and 17 the right to end a pregnancy without needing parental permission.