The reform of the abortion law promoted by Irene Montero is in its final phase and could reach the Council of Ministers next Tuesday with some significant changes. One of the most relevant will be that girls from the age of 16 can voluntarily interrupt pregnancy without parental permission. In this way, the main change that Mariano Rajoy implemented in 2015 would be repealed to return to what José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero approved in 2010.

The Minister of Equality already announced on February 23 in Congress her desire to eliminate the requirement for parental permission for 16 and 17-year-old girls to have an abortion. “Just as they are responsible for working or having sex, they are responsible for deciding about their bodies,” she argued.

Montero spoke that day of “respecting” and “shielding” the agreement that the PSOE approved in 2010 and of suppressing the modification regarding the age that the PP made. “We cannot accept that young women who find it very difficult to tell their parents that they are pregnant and want to interrupt their pregnancies are left out, especially those who are victims of sexual violence in their family environment,” she said at the Equality Commission.

This change in the age to terminate pregnancy freely and autonomously is one of the points that are part of the coalition agreement between the PSOE and United We Can.

Sources from the Ministry of Equality acknowledge that the draft of the abortion reform is very advanced and they trust that it can pass in the first round by the Council of Ministers on May 17, however, they also emphasize that negotiations with the ministries involved are still continuing and that there are “fringes” to close in “important” matters. These sources, however, refuse to reveal what those issues are that still remain open.

In addition to age, where there is consensus within the Government is in “shielding” access to abortion in public centers. It is one of the most outstanding novelties of the reform, which claims that the interruption of pregnancy is guaranteed in “all public hospitals”.

To this end, as the Minister for Equality has been explaining, the aim is to ensure by law that in all these publicly owned centers there are professionals from the gynecology and obstetrics services who can perform abortions and that there no longer be, as is the case now, hospitals where conscientious objections it is not possible for women to access this right and be forced to travel hundreds of kilometers.

The new law will seek to make access to the voluntary interruption of pregnancy “compatible” with the right to conscientious objection of medical personnel, emulating the regulation in this regard that exists in the euthanasia law. In this way, there would be a register of objectors to, from there, detect where there would be gaps that would require reinforcement with more personnel willing to provide this type of intervention.

As Cadena Ser has advanced, the draft of the Ministry of Equality would include, among other measures, the right to menstrual health, which would allow casualties due to painful rules that could last up to three days. However, the Ministry of Equality does not confirm that this issue is closed, and it could be one of the main issues that are still being negotiated with the other ministries involved.

Similarly, it is not confirmed that there will be a reduction or elimination of VAT for feminine hygiene products or free items for women at risk of social exclusion, as contemplated in the draft of the Ministry of Equality.

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