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Spanish abortion law

(AE) WOMEN: Abortion in Spain – EP to open debate on Thursday
 

Brussels, 15/01/2014 (Agence Europe) – The debate to be held on Thursday 16 January at the European Parliament on health and sexual rights will give certain MEPs the opportunity to discuss the controversial bill in Spain which will remove the right to abortion. Only the EPP has not expressed its intention to speak on the subject.

This debate has been included on the agenda of the plenary session at the request of the Social Democrats, who are initially calling for a declaration by the Commission on non-discrimination in the framework of health, reproductive and sexual rights. The MEPs of the S&D Group (supported by those of other groups) have concerns not only about the recent rejection of the report by Edite Estrela (S&D, Portugal) on health and sexual and reproductive rights, but also about a Croatian legislative proposal against gay marriage. The Spanish bill has also made waves within the S&D, ALDE, Greens and GUE/NGL Groups.

The Commission reiterates that it considers the right to abortion as a purely national competence. Health Commissioner Tonio Borg is therefore expected to stick to a declaration on health and fundamental rights, with no link to the issue of abortion in Spain. However, Socialist, Liberal, Green and United Left MEPs, who supported the organisation of the initial debate, are also expected to take advantage of the plenary session agenda to express their concerns about the Spanish bill.

Indeed, on the eve of the debate, a number of MEPs had already criticised this move by the Spanish government (see EUROPE 10996). The leader of the Socialist and Democrat Group, Hannes Swoboda, told the press that it was important to send out a very clear message to Madrid, arguing that the bill sponsored by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (leader of the People's Party of Spain) runs counter to fundamental freedoms. In Swoboda's view, the question is not about “whether you are for or against abortion”, but about “women's right to decide” on their sex lives and maternity. Iratxe Garcia Pérez (S&D, Spain) said that the Spanish bill was not negotiable. Over at the ALDE Group, Spain's Izaskun Bilbao spoke out against a “villainous” law leading to the criminalisation of abortion and risks to women's health. Sophia in 't Veld (ALDE, Netherlands) criticised the Spanish government for its U-turn and called for rights, for all European citizens, to quality public sexual and reproductive health care services. The GUE/NGL Group also expressed its firm opposition and has launched a petition against the bill, which is open to all national and European parliamentarians (and which 124 people have already signed).

The chair of the parliamentary committee on women's rights, Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL, Sweden), said that it was not interference to point out to the Spanish government that it was misguided. For the time being, only the Christian Democrats have remained silent. They will be taking part in Thursday's debate but have not expressed any intention of taking this opportunity to discuss the issue of abortion in Spain.

 

Spain's Alarming Abortion Debate

18 January 2014
The New York Times
The International New York Times
Copyright 2014 The New York Times Company. All Rights Reserved.

Spain's conservative Popular Party, led by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, is pushing a bill that would restrict reproductive rights so severely that many women would be forced to travel abroad to seek abortions or turn to illegal and risky procedures. The bill would allow abortion only in the case of rape or grave danger to the health of the mother as determined by two independent medical professionals. Minors who seek abortions would need parental approval. Fetal abnormalities would no longer qualify as a reason to terminate a pregnancy. If the bill is passed, Spain will become the first member of the European Union to retreat from a decades-long trend toward safe and legal abortion.

Fortunately, the bill is meeting stiff resistance in Spain's Parliament. Protests have erupted in cities across Spain. The Socialist Workers Party, under whose watch a 2010 bill liberalizing access to abortion was passed, is fiercely opposed. Even some members of the Popular Party have revolted, with the party leader for the Extremadura region, José Antonio Monago, pressing for changes.

The debate is moving beyond Spain. Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, the main architect of the bill and Spain's minister of justice, has vowed to take his anti-abortion crusade to the European Parliament and shatter ''the myth of the moral superiority of the left.'' Jean-Marie Le Pen, the former head of France's far-right National Front party, has hailed the Spanish bill. Both parties are fighting to gain seats in May elections for the European Parliament, guaranteeing that the issue will play a central role.

Already, leftist parties in the European Parliament have joined forces to reject the restrictions in the Spanish law. Mikael Gustafsson, chairman of the Parliament's committee on women's rights and gender equality, condemned the retrograde bill. Parliament can do even more to protect women in Spain, and all of Europe, by trying again to pass a report, narrowly defeated in December, that would designate a woman's right to abortion a fundamental human right.

(AE) FEMMES: avortement en Espagne, le PE devrait ouvrir le débat jeudi

Bruxelles, 15/01/2014 (Agence Europe) – Le débat prévu jeudi 16 janvier au sein du Parlement européen sur les droits génésiques et sexuels devrait être l'occasion, pour certains députés, d'évoquer le projet de loi controversé en Espagne supprimant le droit à l'avortement. Seul le PPE n'a pas manifesté l'intention d'aborder le sujet.

Ce débat a été inscrit à l'ordre du jour de la plénière à la demande des sociaux-démocrates, qui souhaitent initialement une déclaration de la Commission à propos de la non-discrimination dans le cadre de la santé et des droits génésiques et sexuels. Les eurodéputés du groupe S&D (soutenus par ceux d'autres groupes) ont des inquiétudes à propos non seulement du rejet, récemment, du rapport d'Edite Estrela (S&D, portugaise) sur la santé et les droits sexuels et génésiques (SDSG), mais aussi d'une proposition législative croate contre le mariage gay. Le projet de loi espagnol fait aussi des vagues au sein du S&D, du groupe ADLE, des Verts et du groupe GUE/NGL.

La Commission rappelle qu'elle considère le droit à l'avortement comme une compétence purement nationale. Le commissaire à la Santé, Tonio Borg, devrait donc s'en tenir à une déclaration portant sur la santé et les droits fondamentaux, sans lien avec la question de l'avortement en Espagne. Mais des députés socialistes, libéraux, écologistes ou de la gauche unitaire, qui ont soutenu l'organisation du débat initial, devraient aussi profiter de l'agenda de la plénière pour faire part de leurs inquiétudes sur le projet de loi espagnol.

En effet, la veille du débat déjà, plusieurs députés ont dénoncé la démarche du gouvernement espagnol (EUROPE 10996). Le président du groupe des socialistes et démocrates, Hannes Swoboda, a déclaré à la presse qu'il était important d'envoyer un message très clair à Madrid, jugeant que le projet de loi porté par le Premier ministre, Mariano Rajoy (leader du Parti populaire d'Espagne), allait à l'encontre des libertés fondamentales. Pour M. Swoboda, la question n'est pas « de savoir si on est pour ou contre l'avortement », mais relève « du droit des femmes à décider » de leur vie sexuelle et de leur maternité. Iratxe Garcia Pérez (S&D, espagnole) a jugé que le projet de loi espagnol n'était pas négociable. Du côté du groupe ADLE, l'Espagnole Izaskun Bilbao a dénoncé une loi « scélérate » conduisant à la criminalisation de l'avortement et à des risques pour la santé des femmes. Sophia in 't Veld (ADLE, néerlandaise) a dénoncé la marche arrière du gouvernement espagnol et appelé au droit, pour tous les citoyens européens, à des services publics de SDSG de haut niveau. Le groupe GUE/NGL a également manifesté sa ferme opposition et lancé une pétition, ouverte à tous les députés nationaux et européens, contre le projet de loi (124 personnes l'ayant déjà signée).

Le président de la commission parlementaire des droits des femmes, Mikael Gustafsson (GUE/NGL, suédois), a estimé qu'il ne s'agissait pas d'ingérence que de signaler au gouvernement espagnol qu'il fait fausse route. Seuls les démocrates chrétiens sont pour l'instant restés silencieux. Ils participeront au débat de jeudi mais n'ont pas manifesté l'intention d'aborder, à cette occasion, la question de l'avortement en Espagne. (MD)