ABORTION DEBATE

Justice Ministry circular states abortion law will “benefit the economy”

Document also claims number of terminations has not fallen under current legislation Official figures, however, suggest the opposite

Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, pictured in Congress.
Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, pictured in Congress.Ballesteros / EFE

The Justice Ministry believes that its controversial reform of abortion legislation, which allows for terminations only in instances of rape or serious health risks to the mother, will have a “positive net impact” on the Spanish economy through an increase in the birth rate. This is one of the justifications for the reform that is laid out in a memorandum accompanying the text of the bill, which was approved by the Cabinet last December and is pending approval in Congress.

The document, which bases its arguments on out-of-date figures, also states that the current law allowing a woman to abort freely up to the 14th week of pregnancy has not resulted in a “reduction” in the number of abortions. However, the latest Health Ministry figures from December 2013 show that the number of abortions has fallen by five percent under the current legislation, which was introduced by the previous Socialist government in 2010.

The memorandum, which has been sent out with the legislation to a number of official bodies, notes that it is difficult to quantify the figures suggesting an increase in births, and states that the “fundamental” purpose of the reform is not economic.

The Justice Ministry’s text also claims the law will have a positive impact on people with disabilities

Neither does the report take into account what could prove to have an economic impact for the central government: under the current law voluntary terminations are included in the basic healthcare package covered by the Social Security system, and therefore it is the regions that foot the bill, largely through agreements with private clinics, which carry out 90 percent of interventions in Spain. By reducing the scenarios under which a woman can choose to abort, the number of terminations performed by these established channels will also decrease, thus affecting the healthcare budget.

The Justice Ministry’s text also claims the law will have a positive impact on people with disabilities because it “will eliminate so-called eugenic abortion.” It further justifies the bill by stating that under the new law abortion will “cease to be viewed as a form of family planning,” and that the numerous administrative steps required to be granted an abortion, including a medical report accrediting serious health risks signed by two doctors, in fact “protect” the freedom of women.