Spain's Rate of Abortion Doubles in a Decade

Growth Exceeds Every Other European Country

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By Inmaculada Álvarez

MADRID, Spain, DEC. 3, 2008 ( Surgical abortions in Spain have increased in all age groups, especially among young unmarried women, reported the health ministry.

A Tuesday statement reported that abortions numbered 112,138 in Spain last year, indicating an increase of 10% compared to 2006. This figure is double that of 1998 (53,847). One out of every five pregnancies ends in abortion, resulting in a rate of more than 300 abortions each day.

According to the data, 97% of abortions were sought due to «risk for the physical or psychological health of the mother.» Ninety-eight percent of the abortions were carried out in private clinics.

This news hit the media at a time when the Spanish government is debating the reform of the present abortion law to give greater protection to women who want abortions and the doctors who perform them. Currently, abortion is allowed for cases of rape until week 12 of the pregnancy, until week 22 for cases of malformation of the fetus, and with no limit in cases where the physical or mental health of the mother is deemed at risk.

A few days ago, the Institute of Family Policy (IPF) made a prognosis close to the figure published in Tuesday’s report, as it anticipated that the official figure would exceed 110,000 abortions by the end of November.

In a note Tuesday, Eduardo Hertfelder, president of IPF, requested the reform of the law to eliminate the possibility to appeal to the psychological health of the mother, which he said has become a «colander» to which women who wish to abort take recourse.

«The effects of a colander such as the present law of abortion are not avoided with the development of a new law that is a greater colander — which would increase the number of abortions — but by eliminating the causes that propagate them,» he affirmed.

No. 1 cause

In a report published at the end of last November, the IPF estimated that at present, abortion has become the leading cause of death in Spain, with 1.2 million deaths since 1985. Moreover, Spain is the European country in which the number of abortions has grown the most over the past five years (by 60%).

According to the IPF, the present situation is the consequence of the «abandonment of women by the administration,» given that there is no type of public assistance for those who decide to go ahead with their pregnancy.

In fact, in its report IPF states that the results of a survey it carried out show that 30% of those who justify abortion adduce economic difficulties for opting for it.

Esperanza Puente of the MotherNetwork agrees. She gave her testimony today before the sub-commission studying a reform of the abortion law. Puente explained in statements to the Spanish agency Europa Press that «the law that is approved is not the main point» if women are not offered an alternative to abortion.

«Experience demonstrates that a pregnant woman who is informed, supported and given different alternatives to abortion decides to go ahead with the pregnancy,» she affirmed. «And no one has regretted having had the child.»

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