Council of Ministers

The Government of Spain reforms the law on sexual and reproductive health and the voluntary interruption of pregnancy

Council of Ministers - 17.5.2022

Moncloa Palace, Madrid

The Council of Ministers has approved the draft reform of Organic Law 2/2010, of 3 March, on Sexual and Reproductive Health and the Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy.

The Minister for Territorial Policy and Government Spokesperson, Isabel Rodríguez, and the Minister for Equality, Irene Montero, have stated that the new law will build on the 2010 law that already created solid pillars for women's sexual and reproductive rights. Montero has expressly recognised its promoter and first Minister for Equality, Bibiana Aído.

Irene Montero said that rights will now be guaranteed and extended, and existing obstacles to exercising the right to voluntary termination of pregnancy will be removed.

For her part, Isabel Rodríguez described the reform as "a new step forward for women and for democracy in our country".

Ensuring and expanding sexual and reproductive rights

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

Irene Montero defended the need for children, adolescents and young people to learn to know their own bodies, to take care of sexual and gender diversity and to have relationships that are free of violence and based on good treatment, consent and the use of contraception and barrier methods. Sex education will therefore be compulsory at all stages of education.

The Minister for Equality argued that the question is not whether sexuality should or should not be learned, because "learning about our sexuality happens regardless". The key is to decide how to learn, whether through unspecialised mechanisms - such as violent pornography, which as she pointed out in our country has an average age of access of 8 years - or with specialised accompaniment, which is what the law proposes.

There will also be lifelong learning, and public assistance and comprehensive and specialised care services will be created, as well as a telephone hotline, aimed particularly at women, to facilitate knowledge of their rights and access to the resources to which they are entitled.

Contraception

The minister explained that to guarantee access to barrier methods of contraception, these will be distributed free of charge in high schools, prisons and social service centres. Public funding will also be expanded and priority given to the latest generation of contraceptives. Furthermore, the development and research of male contraception will be promoted to encourage men's co-responsibility.

Voluntary Interruption of Pregnancy

Montero has maintained that prohibiting or limiting the right to abortion "has never served to reduce it, but only to generate more insecurity, more suffering and more poverty for women, especially the most vulnerable".

The minister assured that the guarantee of women's right to terminate their pregnancies will be maintained, that the public network will be the reference network and that women who decide to terminate their pregnancies will be able to do so in the public hospital nearest to their homes "so that they do not have to travel, sometimes hundreds of kilometres, as is currently the case in many autonomous communities". The individual and constitutional right to the conscientious objection of healthcare personnel will also be regulated.

The current three-day reflection period has been eliminated, as has mandatory prior information, and women who undergo this procedure will be entitled to temporary incapacity during the recovery period.

The morning-after pill will be available free of charge in health centres and future public centres specialising in sexual and reproductive rights, and must be available in all pharmacies.

Exercise of the right to termination of pregnancy for women aged 16 and 17 years and those with a disability does not require the consent of their legal guardians. "The state guarantees them that the decision about their bodies, their life projects and their maternity will be theirs," said Montero.

Pregnancy and childbirth

The law also covers aspects related to pregnancy and childbirth. There will be a new pre-birth leave from the 39th week of gestation, compatible with subsequent maternity leave, and good obstetric and gynaecological practices and respected childbirth will be promoted through a protocol that incorporates international and national guidelines.

Menstrual health

The right to menstrual health appears for the first time in Spanish law as part of the fundamental right to health for all women: "Periods will cease to be taboo," Montero stressed.

The main new developments are that a temporary incapacity paid in full by the State is regulated for women who have painful and disabling periods and that products related to menstrual hygiene and management will be dispensed free of charge in educational and social service centres and prisons.

Reproductive violence

Last, reproductive exploitation, forced abortion and pregnancy, forced sterilisation and forced contraception are recognised as forms of violence against women, as set out in the Istanbul Convention.

Acknowledgements

The Minister for Equality thanked all the ministries involved in the drafting of the reform for their work, and the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez, for "his confidence and commitment to making this a feminist government that is at the forefront internationally".

Montero acknowledged the contributions of the feminist movement, "the architect of the great feminist advances at institutional level in our country", and of private abortion centres.

Last, Montero expressed her support for all women in other countries who are fighting for their sexual and reproductive rights and for free, safe and unrestricted abortion.

Phone line 028 for LGTBI people

The government has approved an institutional declaration on International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, which is celebrated on 17 May.

The text reiterates its commitment to the rights of LGTBI people and informs that the draft bill of the Law for the Real and Effective Equality of Trans People and for the Guarantee of the Rights of LGTBI People is now in its final phase. Minister Irene Montero added that it will be submitted to the General Courts during the current session.

Montero also announced that from the summer onwards, a free telephone number 028 will be available to provide "support, accompaniment, emotional containment and all the specialised support that LGTBI people may need to guarantee their rights and fight against hate crimes".

Sustainable fisheries and fisheries research

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

The Council of Ministers has approved the referral to Parliament of the Draft Law on Sustainable fisheries and Fisheries Research, which updates the legislation in force since 2001 and adapts it to European regulations.

The Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Luis Planas, stressed the importance of this update, presented on 1 July 2021, for a sector that represents the largest fishing fleet in the European Union and generates 60,000 jobs.

Planas explained that the two main pillars of the future law are sustainability and fisheries research. Sustainability has a triple perspective: conservation of fisheries resources, economic activity and employment, and the social cohesion of fishing areas.

The minister recalled that fishery resources are limited, which is why the regulation includes measures for their conservation and sustainable use. In this respect, it limits the volume of catches, regulates the gear and equipment used, and establishes closed areas and special protection zones for the replenishment of biological stocks. All this, he said, "to make our seas and oceans healthier".

One of the new developments highlighted by Luis Planas is the regulation of fishing genetic resources (plants, crops, micro-organisms, etc.), which will be considered fishing resources.

The law also aims for a more efficient and flexible use of fishing quotas. Vessels carrying out this activity must be registered in the general fishing fleet register, have a licence and be assigned to a fishing mode and fishing ground. The allocation of fishing quotas is linked to a vessel or group of vessels and a vessel owner. If the administration has knowledge that part of the fishing quota has not been used or is under-utilised, it may be used by other fishing vessels in the same fishing ground and mode.

"We want to eliminate any kind of speculation by people who, because they have a fishing right linked to the existence of a defined and allocated quota, use it as an element of purely commercial transactions, with no relation to fishing activity," the minister explained.

Furthermore, the regulation addresses the management of recreational fisheries in external waters and introduces the creation of a Fisheries Advisory Forum, in which the major players in the sector will participate.

As for fisheries research, the minister assured that this is not a complementary activity, but an "absolutely necessary" one for the preservation of resources. In this respect, he highlighted the work of the oceanographic vessels Miguel Oliver, Emma Bardán and Vizconde de Eza.

Protection of seafarers

The future law also includes measures to provide greater retirement protection for certain groups of seafarers and fishermen, whose work is particularly arduous and tiring.

Luis Planas specifically referred to the shellfish gatherers on foot, who are thereby put on a par with shellfish gatherers afloat, and professional divers. A second group will be made up of net menders, "neskatillas" (those who offload the catch) and packers, who have previously not been included for this favourable treatment. These occupations are mostly carried out by women.

The minister specified that this more favourable treatment will benefit some 5,300 people.

Contracting in the dairy sector

The Executive has approved a royal decree that establishes the conditions for contracting in the dairy sector, regulates the recognition of producer and inter-professional organisations and aims to guarantee compliance with the Food Chain Law. The aim is that the costs of production are passed on in each purchase and sale transaction between the different links.

According to the minister, the main new development of this regulation is that producers with fixed-price contracts with a duration of more than six months will be able to revise them if, for at least three months, production costs have increased above the fixed cost.

Agricultural and livestock lines

Luis Planas also reported that the Council of Ministers has authorised the distribution among the autonomous communities of more than €48 million to finance various agricultural and livestock lines. The final distribution and allocation criteria will be fixed at the Sectoral Conference on Agriculture and Rural Development, scheduled for tomorrow.

Promoting Vocational Training

Foto: Pool Moncloa/Borja Puig de la Bellacasa

The Council of Ministers has agreed on the distribution of more than €1.2 billion to the autonomous communities to promote Vocational Training.

The government spokeswoman specified that more than €800 million will be allocated to training for employed and unemployed workers. Almost €400 million from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan will go to the modernisation of the Vocational Training system.

Isabel Rodríguez stressed that strengthening vocational training is one of the political priorities of the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sánchez. In fact, the number of young people in Spain enrolled in these courses has increased by 20% and more than one million people are now studying Vocational Training. Intermediate vocational training courses are reaching more than 80% employability and some have 100%.

The spokesperson added that the government will allocate more than €5.5 billion to vocational training, in addition to the €2.2 billion included in the plan to modernise the system by 2020: "In total, in these years, we are going to allocate €7.7 billion".

Youth Strategy 2022-2030

The Government has approved the Youth Strategy 2022-2030, in which it sets out its priorities in relation to the younger population.

Isabel Rodríguez pointed out that the Strategy shows the government's planning effort with this group: "We are not looking at the short term, we are not looking only at this legislature. We are looking at a decade of well-planned policies dedicated to Spanish youth.

The minister also stressed that the document has been drawn up with the participation of all the administrations and the Spanish Youth Council.

Inclusion Projects

The Executive has promoted 18 inclusion pilot projects linked to the Minimum Basic Income, which will be funded with €102 million from the Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan.

The spokesperson specified that the agreements will be signed with autonomous communities, town councils and third sector organisations, in which 130,000 recipients of the Minimum Basic Income and regional minimum incomes throughout the country will participate.

Energy efficiency

The Government has declared of general interest a total of 240 actions foreseen in the State Security Infrastructure Plan for Energy Transition, through which it promotes energy saving and efficiency and encourages the use of renewable energy sources.

Isabel Rodríguez specified that €400 million are earmarked for the construction, reform, improvement or rehabilitation of infrastructures, facilities and equipment of the Ministry of Home Affairs, especially Civil Guard barracks and National Police stations.

Non official translation