Press release

Challenging obstacles to information about abortion in Spain during the COVID-19 pandemic

Women on Web, with support from Women’s Link Worldwide, has filed a lawsuit demanding the Spanish government unblock its website

  • Country: Spain
  • Date: 27/01/2021
Challenging obstacles to information about abortion in Spain during the COVID-19 pandemicWoman with a poster during a strike © Laura Martínez Valero / Women's Link Worldwide

Spain, 27 January 2021 – The international organization Women on Web, with legal support from Women’s Link Worldwide, has filed a lawsuit at the Spanish National Court after the Spanish government blocked their website in early 2020. The site includes information on sexual and reproductive rights and access to safe abortion in Spain.

The organizations argue that the Spanish State is failing to comply with its obligations to provide accurate information on sexual and reproductive rights and also actively censoring an organization that offers complete, accurate information on access to safe abortion in Spain.

Information on sexual and reproductive rights is essential for women who wish to obtain a safe abortion, particularly the most vulnerable among them, such as poor women, victims of violence, women who live far from clinics, and migrant women with irregular immigration status. And access to information is all the more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, when barriers to access to safe abortion have increased not just in Spain, but all over the world.

The Spanish State has an obligation to provide accurate, complete, and timely information on voluntary termination of pregnancy. Its failure to fulfill this obligation leads to lack of knowledge and disinformation for women. Many women must turn to organizations to learn how to get access to safe abortion services because they cannot get this information from the State,” explains Women’s Link Worldwide attorney Estefanny Molina.

When the State has failed to offer official information, organizations and providers of voluntary termination of pregnancy services have stepped in, providing women with the latest information on the steps to follow to get an abortion in each of Spain’s autonomous communities through phone calls, emails, and websites.

Instead of censoring Women on Web, Spain could have implemented telemedical abortion services like the UK, Ireland and France did to make sure women can still access safe abortion care during COVID-19,” notes Verónica Fernández, Women on Web’s spokesperson in Spain.

Lack of information on abortion in Spain

In Spain, there is a serious lack of high-quality official information on how to access safe and legal abortion services as well as the different methods available (surgical abortion and medical abortion).

Most health department websites include highly technical information on abortion but do not explain in simple language the steps to obtain an abortion, time limits, or requirements, and information is not available in languages other than Spanish.

This lack of information also affects medical and administrative staff in public health facilities, many of whom, unaware of the protocols to follow in order to obtain an abortion, give incorrect instructions or even deny access to abortion, particularly for migrant women with irregular immigration status or temporary residents.

The use of conscientious objection erects another barrier at public hospitals all over Spain, many of which do not perform abortions. According to figures from the Ministry of Health, between 2010 and 2018, 91% of abortions were performed at licensed private clinics. This widespread use of institutional conscientious objection is yet another obstacle to women’s access to accurate information on abortion.

Finally, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Spanish government has not launched an informational campaign to let women know how to obtain access to abortion during the crisis or taken any measures to reduce the need to travel in order to reduce exposure to infection (except in Catalonia and Galicia).

For more information:

Media contact:

Laura Martínez Valero

[email protected]

Tel. +34 699 984 800

About Women's Link Worldwide

Women’s Link Worldwide is an international organization which uses the power of the law to promote a social change which promotes the rights of women and girls, especially those facing multiple forms of discrimination.

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