A move by the far-right Vox party, a member of the incumbent executive in Spain’s autonomous Castilla y León community, to restrict access to abortions and reproductive health care in the region has led to widespread protest from women’s rights groups and other progressive sections in the country.
On January 22, activists from the Platform for the Rights of Women of Palencia, United Left (IU), and others protested in the city of Palencia against the misogynist, anti-abortion protocols proposed by the far-right and demanded free and safe abortions in the community. The Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE), Podemos, and Collectives of Communist Youth (CJC) also protested the anti-women policies of the regional government, controlled by the far-right Vox and the conservative People’s Party (PP) in the region.
Plans announced by the vice president of the executive of Castilla y León, Juan García-Gallardo (from Vox), in the second week of January, which would have mandated that health professionals “provide pregnant women with 4D images of the fetus, as well as listening to their heartbeats” had been roundly criticized by women’s right groups.
Feminist groups argued that the move was a ploy to emotionally torment pregnant women who want abortions. The federal government in Spain, led by the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE), Podemos, and the United Left (IU) coalition, also slammed the change as one that would violate the existing protocols that ensure the right to abortion, and warned of political and legal consequences. Following this, the People’s Party (PP) leadership in Castilla y León reportedly backtracked, triggering tensions within the executive.
On January 22, the Platform for the Rights of Women of Palencia said that “abortion must not be prevented with stigmatizing measures or coercing women who have decided to abort, but through sexual and reproductive education, information on contraceptive methods, and advice on preventing unplanned pregnancies. No policy to promote birth can be based on anti-abortion measures, but on policies that favor the possibility of having children in dignified economic..conditions.”
The Communist Party of the Workers of Spain (PCTE) released a statement on January 21, saying that “proposals of the Region of Castilla y León would lead to coercing and blaming women who decide to have an abortion under the guise of promoting the birth rate, in a community shaken by precariousness, unemployment, and emigration.”
“Ironically, these measures would include 4D ultrasounds or psychological support, measures that are currently not contemplated via public health in pregnancy, demonstrating once again that there are public resources, but they are not at the service of the working class, but in this case of a reactionary elite. Not to mention the risk and scientific reasons that advise against certain tests in the first weeks of gestation,” the PCTE added.