Madrid, March 7, 2017 – Women’s Link is suing the health department of the Region of Murcia, Spain, for violating the rights of their client Ana (not her real name), a woman who was denied information on the serious condition affecting her fetus for almost four weeks. Due to this violation of her right to information, as well as the discrimination she faced in the Santa Lucía de Cartagena Public Hospital in Murcia, she was not able to access abortion services in a dignified way, and as a result suffered serious physical and psychological harm.
In Spain, the right to have an abortion is guaranteed under the 2010 Law on Sexual and Reproductive Rights. However, in reality, many women still face serious obstacles to access to abortion services in a dignified way. Too many women continue to be denied respectful treatment during the process and are not provided with adequate information; their freedom of choice is limited and they are forced to endure discrimination.
“While there is a law in place, there is still a massive disparity between the law as it is written and the real situation faced by women across Spain. Measures must be taken to ensure the law is enforced properly and applied to all women, without exception. Otherwise, it’s simply not worth the paper it’s written on. We’re still dealing with dangerous prejudices about motherhood, sexual and reproductive health, and women’s ability to make decisions about their own lives- prejudices that interfere in their ability to access abortion services with dignity,” said Women’s Link Senior Attorney Teresa Fernández Paredes.
After the public hospitals in Murcia refused to perform a termination, Ana was forced to travel to Madrid at her own expense to undergo an abortion. Unfortunately, cases such as Ana’s have been seen across Spain, including one particularly shocking case in Galicia, in the north of Spain, in which the health department was ordered to make a hefty compensation payment to a woman who lost her uterus due to the negligence of the health service. According to data from the Ministry of Health, there are four regions in Spain, including Murcia, whose public health systems did not perform a single abortion in 2014.
“On International Women's Day 2017, we want to highlight the obstacles that women continue to have to overcome to access to a dignified abortion under the Spanish public health system. The State, through its public health departments, continues to shirk its duty to provide access to abortion services in a dignified way, and instead refers most cases to private clinics. This means that many women have to travel to other regions at their own expense, far from their families, and pay for accommodation during the procedure. This is a clear case of geographic and socioeconomic discrimination,” adds Teresa.
The organization has filed a lawsuit on Ana’s behalf against the health department of Murcia in the Superior Court of Murcia. It hopes to force Spain to put measures in place to guarantee access to abortion services in a dignified way for women throughout Spain, so no other woman has to go through what Ana did. Women’s Link Worldwide is an international organization that uses legal action and strategies to bring about social change that promotes the rights of women and girls, particularly those who face multiple forms of discrimination.
For more information:
Laura Martínez Valero
+34 669 464 490