EWL News

More than 2000 people joined the demonstration to support abortion rights in Spain and Europe!

[Brussels, 30 January 2014] More than 2000 people gathered together in Brussels to protest against the new draft bill to restrict the abortion in Spain and demand access to abortion everywhere in Europe. The European Women´s Lobby want to thank all the participants who joined and expressed their solidarity with the women in Spain and Europe.

The demonstration, co-organised by the European Women’s Lobby (EWL), the European Humanist Federation (EFH), the Platform “Abortion Rights”, the International Planned Parenthood Federation – European Network (IPPFEN) and Catholics for choicestarted at 17h front of the Spanish Embassy. A delegation of civil society members and members of the parliament met shortly with a representative of the Spanish Ambassador and delivered two letters addressed to Mr. Mariano Rajoy, President of the Spanish Government and Mr. Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, Minister of Justice, calling the Government to withdraw this draft bill and promote women´s rights and gender equality.

On the 20 December 2013, the Spanish Council of Ministers approved a draft bill aiming at reforming the current law on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). If approved, abortion would be allowed in Spain only in the case of rape or if the pregnancy poses a serious physical or mental health risk to women. Any abortion carried out that does not fall under the two permitted categories will be considered a crime, leaving women in Spain with two choices: travel abroad to get a safe and legal abortion or having an “underground” abortion with serious threats to their health. If approved, this new bill would lead to a 30 years step backwards in the rights of women and to the failure of the Government to fulfill its fundamental role to promote gender equality and human rights.

In front of the Spanish Embassy, members of civil society and politicians took the floor to insist on the backlash that this project represents. Speeches were held by Julia Laot from the platform Abortion right, Marc Tarabella from the S&D group of the European Parliament, Viviane Teilbaum from the European Women’s Lobby, the PS Belgian member of Parliament Karine Lalieux and Angeles Alvarez, MP from the Spanish Parliament.During her intervention, EWL president, Viviane Teitelbaum, stressed that "the access to avortement and Sexual and reproductive health and rights is a matter of gender equality and women´s empowerment. Women´s freedom to control over their lives, health and fertility is needed to ensure equality between women and men".

Around 18.30h, a torchlight march walked to the European Parliament (Place du Luxembourg). The atmosphere at the demonstration was excellent. EWL Belgian Members, le Conseil des Femmes Francophones de Belgique (CFFB) and the Nederlandstalige Vrouwenraad (NVR) and its partners organisations (Le Monde selon les Femmes, Amazone, l’Université des Femmes, FPS, Vie Féminine, and many more) took also part in the demonstration.

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In Place Luxembourg, the demonstration was received by multiple representatives of the European Parliament from all the political groups. Pierre Galand, president of the European Humanist Federation, opened the second round of speeched followed by: Lena Luyckfassel from IPPFEN, Carmen Madrid from PSOE Bruselas, Iraxte Garcia Perez, S&D MEP, Sophie In’t Veld, ALDE MEP, Isabelle Durant, Green MEP; the President of the S&D group at the European Parliament Hannes Swoboda and Pierrette Pape, Interim Coordinator of the EWL, who called the Spanish Governemnt and all the EU member States to ensure access to abortion as a mater of Human and women´s rights. She stressed "it is unacceptable that in the 21st century, a European country includes in its legislation a provision which directly endangers women’s lives".

This demonstration was part of a wider mobilization in Europe. In Spain, Women NGO´s from all the regions and beyond will get on the Train of Freedom, to go to Madrid on the 1st of February to handle the Government a letter/manifesto entitled “Porque Yo Decido” – “Because I Decide”, witten by Alicia Miyares:

"Because it’s my choice, I am free, and I live in a democracy, I demand from the government, any government, that it make laws that promote moral autonomy, preserve freedom of conscience, and guarantee plurality and diversity."

The full text in English can be read here.

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