The conservative Popular Party (PP) has come up with a policy that would see pregnant undocumented migrants in Spain spared expulsion from the country during their term if they opt to give up their child for adoption. In a controversial proposal for a so-called “support for maternity law,” the opposition party – led by Pablo Casado – has linked together issues of abortion, immigration and economic resources. The PP says that the law would not act as a “shield” for any female immigrants in an irregular situation, but that they would be expelled from the country after giving birth.
We need to think about how to have more babies and not about how to have terminations
PP leader Pablo Casado
In the run up to the April 28 general elections in Spain, PP chief Pablo Casado has stated on a number of occasions that he would like to see the country return to the restrictive legislation on abortion that was passed in 1985, rather than the current laws. The Socialist Party (PSOE) government of Prime Minister Felipe González passed that legislation in the 1980s, which decriminalized abortion only in cases of rape, risk to the mother’s health and accredited fetal deformities
In 2010, under Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero of the Socialist Party (PSOE), Spain adopted legislation allowing abortion on demand during the first trimester. There was an attempt in 2013 to repeal this law, but the initiative failed to gain political traction and its main sponsor, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón of the PP, stepped down as justice minister in September 2014 as a result.
Recent comments that Casado has made linking voluntary abortions with the sustainability of the country’s pension system have sparked fierce criticism, including from within his own party, sectors of which consider the abortion debate to have been “solved” within Spanish society.
In February, the conservative leader said that his party supports a “progressive” pro-life culture, and warned that Spain, with its ageing population, is facing “a demographic winter” that will endanger the pensions system as well as healthcare and other public benefits programs.
“I think we need to make an analysis of what kind of society we are building, and above all, and this is something that the left is very bad at, if we want to fund pensions and healthcare we need to think about how to have more babies and not about how to have terminations,” he said last month.
With regard to this new proposed legislation, the PP leadership said it understands that a high number of abortions are carried out among “immigrant women who have no resources.” As such, Casado has sought to combine the aforementioned issues of immigration, terminations, adoptions and economic resources in a single proposal, which the party has dubbed the “law to support maternity.”
Protecting maternity is protecting women who are mothers
Marisa Soleto, director of Spain’s Fundación Mujeres
According to this proposal, pregnant women without residency papers who wanted to give up their child to adoption would have guarantees that they will not be deported during their term. Afterwards, were they to be picked up in a raid, or were they citizens of countries with which the government has repatriation agreements, they would be sent back to their country of origin.
“What would be an outrage,” party sources have explained, would be “to use the data that has to be supplied in the process of handing a child over for adoption as an excuse to process the expulsion of that woman. That is what we want to avoid for humanitarian reasons and for the protection of the minor and the mother.”
This system, the PP added, is already in place in the Madrid region – where the party is in power – via a “protocol against the abandonment of babies.” The party is yet to supply a full draft text of this proposed legislation.
Spanish law already protects undocumented pregnant women, whether or not they are going to give their child up for adoption. Legislation establishes that deportation cannot be carried out when “it affects pregnant women, when the measure could pose a risk to the pregnancy or to the health of the mother.”
Marcelo Belgrano, an expert in immigration issues, explains that the PP proposal is based on two false premises. “Pregnant women are not expelled from Spain and there is no exchange of data so that a woman who starts the process of putting her child up for adoption has to fear that she will be deported when she supplies her name,” he explained.
Such a practice was, in fact, one of the demands of far-right party Vox during negotiations to form a government after last year’s Andalusian regional elections: that there be an exchange of information between different areas of the public administration – such as the health system – allowing the police to begin steps to expel undocumented migrants. The PP refused to agree to such a system.
Marisa Soleto, the director of Spain’s Fundación Mujeres (Women’s Foundation), considers the proposal to be “abusive,” reports Pilar Álvarez. “Protecting maternity is protecting women who are mothers,” she said.
Vladimir Núñez, a lawyer specializing in immigration, said that Casado’s proposal would be in conflict with article 13 of the Spanish Constitution, which guarantees all public freedoms to foreigners in Spain.
English version by Simon Hunter.