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Spain debates plans for paid menstrual leave and wider abortion access

A draft law would allow women to stay home if they are diagnosed by a doctor. It would also extend abortion access.

Currently, abortion care is available during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy based on a woman's indication. 

Up to 22 weeks, abortion is permitted in cases of serious risk to the life or health of the woman or foetus. Thereafter, abortion care is only accessible in cases of foetal abnormalities incompatible with life or extremely serious and incurable illness. Nonetheless, access to dignified and safe care remains an obstacle course especially for those already marginalized by systemic discrimination. But there is hope.

This week, the government discussed a progressive law which gives autonomy to girls aged 16 to 18 to access abortion care without parental consent; regulates denial of care based on personal beliefs; and scraps medically unnecessary 3-day waiting periods delaying access to abortion.

If approved, the law would also extend financing for contraceptive care.

The draft law also guarantees up to 3 days of menstrual leave for painful periods; eliminates VAT on menstrual products; and asks that schools and prisons offer free menstrual products.






Abortion Care, Sexual Health

Related Member Association

Federación de Planificación Familiar de España

The bill has been a “long time in the making,” said Caroline Hickson, Regional Director of IPPF EN for the Washington Post.

She said that a key part of the menstrual leave provision is that doctors can recommend sick leave for any health issue.

“In theory, if you have a painful period, you should be as entitled as any other illness,” she said. “It’s really about the normalization of something so simple, so basic — that for years has been such a source of shame and stigma, embarrassment.”

The bill on sexual and reproductive health and abortion care recognizes rights that were already in the 2010 Spanish law and had subsequently been restricted, and includes new measures that entail the normalization of important aspects of sexual and reproductive health.

Read more about the bill in the reaction of our Spanish Member Association.

We welcome these positive changes as they lift arbitrary and harmful barriers to care and bring women, in all their diversity, closer to reproductive freedom and safety. We call on the Spanish Parliament to swiftly pass the proposed bill and ask other countries to follow the example.