Madrid, 11 April 2019 – The international organization Women’s Link Worldwide and the Commission for the Investigation of Violence Against Women have filed a complaint with the Spanish Office of the Ombudsman detailing the cases of six migrant women with irregular immigration status whose access to abortion was delayed by the Madrid public health system. The women were victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, or otherwise at risk.
The Spanish public healthcare system is required by law to provide voluntary termination of pregnancy services to all women, regardless of their nationality or immigration status. However, since 2012, access to public healthcare for migrants has been restricted by another law. Even the law which ensures access to abortion in Spain should take precedence over the law which restricts access to the public healthcare system for migrants, in practice this restriction has created a serious barrier to access to sexual and reproductive health services, including prenatal care and abortion, for migrant women without a resident permit.
In one of the cases outlined in the complaint, a Nigerian woman who was a victim of trafficking and nine weeks pregnant spent two weeks demanding the healthcare authorization she needed to have an abortion performed at a public hospital. When she was finally able to get the authorization, she was 11 weeks pregnant, close to the legal limit of 14 weeks for unrestricted termination of pregnancy.
“Migrant women all over the world face serious barriers to healthcare services, particularly sexual and reproductive health. Spain is no exception. With this complaint, we are asking the Ombudsman to investigate these barriers and issue a set of recommendations to put a halt to these discriminatory practices,” explains Women’s Link attorney Estefanny Molina.
“In these six cases, thanks to the work of several organizations, the women were finally able to exercise their abortion rights, but we can only wonder how many other women out there were misinformed or did not receive this kind of support,” notes a representative of the Commission for the Investigation of Violence Against Women. “One essential step for eliminating this form of discrimination is making sure everyone working with women is properly trained and understands that no woman’s access to abortion should be restricted, regardless of her immigration status.”
The organizations filing the complaint
Women's Link Worldwide is an international organization that uses the power of the law to promote social change that advances the human rights of women and girls, especially those facing multiple inequalities.
The Commission for the Investigation of Violence Against Women is a non-profit organization of feminist professionals working to eradicate all forms of violence against women and girls, advocate for their rights, and build an egalitarian society.
Doctors of the World Madrid, Centro de Atención Integral a Mujeres Concepción Arenal, and Yo Sí Sanidad Universal also assisted with the complaint.
For more information:
Laura Martínez Valero
+34 699 984 800