Last week the Spanish Vox party, which governs Castile and León in coalition with the larger conservative People’s Party (PP), announced a change in regional healthcare protocols that would have obliged doctors to offer women seeking to terminate their pregnancies a 4D scan, a chance to listen to the foetal heartbeat, and a psychological consultation. Although according to the proposed change, which would have been introduced this past Monday, the women would have had the right to turn down the offer of all or any of the options, the proposal provoked fury on the left. Yielding to the pressure, right-wing Vox’s coalition partner, the People’s Party rushed to announce that they did not back the change and the new protocol would be dropped.
Amendment Proposal Modelled on Hungary
Vox has been vocal about its intention to introduce restrictions of the liberal abortion law in the Castile and Léon region, which has prompted a significant social debate in Spain. The abortion law currently in force eliminated the earlier three-day compulsory waiting period before a pregnancy can be terminated, and bars people who are anti-abortion from serving on the committee that reviews abortion requests. It also makes abortion available up to the 14th week of pregnancy in any hospital in the nation to every woman who has reached the age of 16.
In a recent television interview, Regional Vice-President, Vox politician Juan García-Gallardo noted that the Vox proposal was based on the Hungarian abortion law, amended last September, which makes it compulsory for pregnant mothers to listen to the foetus’s heartbeat before an abortion. The reporter retorted that for her, ‘Hungary is not an example’ and that she would rather not live in that country. García-Gallardo defended Hungary, reminding the reporter that Hungary ‘is a country that is part of the EU, one that is improving yearly, where along with the economy, the population is growing as well…for me Hungary is in fact an example,’ the regional Vox leader insisted.
Socialist Government Threatens with Lawsuit
The Vox move caused controversy in the country. The Socialist central government announced on Monday that they do not intend to impose new requirements on mothers who would like to terminate their pregnancies or doctors who perform abortions. The administration stressed that if the regional leadership does not scrap their proposal, they would take the matter to court.
Reacting to the government’s statement, García-Gallardo emphasised that his party is not looking to force anything upon women. The proposed protocol would only require doctors to call the women’s attention to the 4D scan and ultrasound as well as the psychological advice options—after that, a mother could decide on her own accord. The proposal would allow women to listen to the foetal heartbeat between the sixth and ninth week of their pregnancy, while also allowing them to observe the foetus in a live video. According to data from 2021, Castile and León had a seven per cent increase in abortions compared to the previous year, raising the number of abortion to 2,600. In Spain there are around 90,000 abortions performed each year.