With her son wrapped around her waist, a beaming mother began chanting “mi cuerpo es mio” (“My body is mine”) outside the Spanish Embassy in London on Saturday, Feb. 8.
A decorated hanger marked with ‘My Belly is Mine’ hung from her jacket as she sang in Spanish with a group of 40 other activists.
Under present Spanish legislation, women have the right to an abortion up to 14 weeks of pregnancy. In cases where the mother’s health is at risk, or when the foetus shows serious deformities, Spanish women have until the 22nd week to end the pregnancy.
(Video Produced by Katherine Iorio and Ryan Chua)
Spain’s cabinet approved a draft bill on the Dec. 20, which ensures abortion is only allowed in the case of rape, serious foetal deformity or if the pregnancy presents a serious mental or physical health risk to the mother.
Isabel Ros Lopez, member of SWASG (Spanish Women’s Abortion Support Group), believes this will take Spain back to the 1980s.
“In 1985 the abortion legislation was changed to allow for a woman to have an abortion, if two doctors agreed. So, it still wasn’t the right for a woman to choose; so it was not dissimilar to what the situation is like here in the UK. But the important thing is the historical context. Thirty years ago seems like a long time ago, but it is not, for things to be changing back to the Jurassic Period as far as women’s rights are concerned.
“In 1981 3,000 Spanish women died of backstreet abortions, which is a huge amount of women—it is still happening all over the world—so it is nothing new. It is happening today all over the world,” said Lopez.
While over 70 per cent of Spain’s population is Roman Catholic, a religion that thinks abortion and contraception sinful, opposition to the new law is widespread: 80 per cent of Spaniards oppose it, including 50 per cent of those who identify as Catholic, according to a poll published in El País, the country’s primary newspaper. Argument over the bill has even caused a rift within the ruling conservative party Partido Popular (PP), which overthrew the Socialist party from office in 2011.
The government, however, has since suggested it may amend the final draft as opinion polls suggest 80 percent of Spaniards are against revising the law.