Spain’s Congress of Deputies approved a new sexual reproductive law on Thursday which will see those with painful periods receiving paid menstrual leave and providing greater access to abortions via public hospitals.
The new bill was adopted by deputies in the lower house of the Spanish parliament on its first reading, receiving 190 votes for, 154 against, and 5 abstentions.
The bill will now go to the Senate for final approval before being written into law.
Irene Montero (pictured), Spain's Minister of Equality and a member of the left-wing Podemos party told the Congress of Deputies, “This legislature is a legislature of feminist conquests.
"These advancements allow us to exercise freedom over our bodies, with the state recognising the full citizenship of more than half the population.
"We recognise menstrual health as part of the right to health and we fight stigma and silence," she added.
Under the new law, doctors will be able to grant women with painful periods paid sick leave, however, the length of time is yet to be confirmed.
Once approved by the Senate, it will mean that Spain will be one of the first countries in Europe to integrate the measure into legislation and will follow the examples of Indonesia, Japan, and Zambia.
Some unions including the UGT trade union feel that some businesses will be concerned about absences and as a result, may not employ women.
Access to abortions in public hospitals for 16 and 17-year-olds
In addition to menstrual leave, the legislation will also provide increased access to abortions via public hospitals.
Since 2015, 16 and 17-year-olds have required parental permission to have an abortion, however, the new legislation will overturn this ruling making them more accessible to youngsters.
Currently, only around 15% of all abortions are conducted in these hospitals due to ‘conscientious objections by doctors’.
In order to protect the rights of medical professionals, a register of conscientious objector health workers will be established, as is currently provided in the case of euthanasia.
Under the plans, sex education will also be encouraged in high schools along with free distribution of contraceptives and menstrual hygiene products.
Abortion was first legalised in Spain in 1985 for cases of rape or physical damage to the mother or child.
This was further broadened in 2010 by the last socialist government which permitted abortion up to 22 weeks in cases of foetal deformities.
Abortion remains a contentious topic in Spain due to the country’s strong Catholic faith and traditions.
Image Credit: La Moncloa
September 20, 2023