With the European Parliament elections approaching this weekend, Spain's center-right party that introduced a controversial anti-abortion bill has yet to pass it. Anti-abortion activists are growing impatient, resorting to violence.
An anti-abortion protest in Barcelona, Spain.
Credit:David Berkowitz on Flickr, under Creative Commons
(WOMENSENEWS)— Anti-abortion advocates in Spain who have been pressing the government to curtail access to pregnancy terminations and push through an abortion bill introduced last year are growing impatient.
Abortion clinics in the Spanish capital have reported several recent instances of vandalism on their premises, the Spanish newspaper El Pais
reported May 19. At least three Planned Parenthood centers in Madrid have been spray painted and their windows shattered by unidentified groups in the past weeks.
"These groups have gone from praying outside the clinics to smashing their glass windows," Socialist Deputy Ángeles Álvarez was quoted as saying in El Pais
. "These incidents should place the government delegation [in Madrid] on alert."
The escalating violence reflects activists' impatience with the center-right Popular Party government, which is dragging its feet with abortion reform, the newspaper writes.
The new proposed abortion law was approved by Spain's cabinet five months ago. It only permits an abortion in the cases of rape or if there's danger to the mother's health.Currently, women in Spain can get an abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. If the mother's health is at risk or the fetus is suffering from serious abnormalities, women have until 22 weeks.
The Spanish government is waiting for several non-binding reports to be released, which are necessary before the bill can move to Congress, the El Pais article explained.
But the ruling party has been criticized even within its ranks for pushing the bill. With the elections to the European Parliament coming up on May 25, where candidates from the various parties in Spain are running for one of the 54 seats reserved for the country, the party wants to avoid alienating any of its own voters over the abortion issue.
As the European elections approach, Spain's socialist party, The Spanish Socialist Workers Party is intensifying its own campaign to protect the right of abortion. The party released on May 19 a YouTube video titled “Start to get your rights back #NoToChauvinism” featuring several young women who can be seen looking at their bellies, marked with a blue stain, in the mirror, The Spain Report
reported. The text in the video reads: “With the chauvinist policies of the PP [Popular Party] and the extreme right in Europe, your belly is no longer yours. It belongs to them.”
Some Spanish women have decided to play the creative card and have resorted to humor to raise awareness of the consequences if the anti-abortion bill is passed. The women set up a fake "abortion travel agency" in Madrid to demonstrate how Spanish women will leave the country and travel abroad to have an abortion, The Debrief
reported May 20.
The pop up agency, which has a physical location in the city, finds the cheapest flights to countries where women who wish to terminate their pregnancy can get an abortion, the best priced hotels to stay in and the most suitable clinics. For now, it’s a fake travel agency, yet it could become a reality if the bill is approved.
"Women who want to get an abortion will find any way possible of doing so--as they did 30 years ago when Spain had a similar, draconian law to what the government is now proposing,” Cristina Rodríguez, one of the people behind the 'Abortion Travel' project, told The Debrief .
“I hope this fake clinic we've built will never have to exist, but I do worry what will happen to the women who will be unable to use an abortion travel agency like ours,” added Rodriguez. “We are not saying abortion is great--it’s an incredibly traumatic experience--but we do want more people to understand that our government is essentially trying to send women away to terminate our pregnancies, which only adds to the stress it can cause.”
Hajer Naili is a New York-based reporter for Women's eNews. She has worked for several radio stations and publications in France and North Africa. She specializes in Middle East, North Africa and women in Islam.
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