(picture by Phil Tsappas)
Mireia Chavarria and Phil Tsappas report:
Around 40 people gathered outside the Spanish embassy in London on Saturday to protest in solidarity with women in the Spanish State over abortion reforms. The My Belly Is Mine campaign will be running a series of actions over the coming months in the UK aimed at raising political pressure. King’s College Intersectional Feminist Society spoke to the protest, delivering support from their 500 members.
The abortion laws in Britain are from the 1960s and remain very paternalistic: women still have to get the ‘nod’ from two medical doctors before getting an abortion. Like the new Spanish law, abortion is conceived as a crime unless certain conditions are met. Conversely, the current Spanish law, from 2010, conceived abortion as a right, even if was limited.
One woman who spoke at the protest has campaigned for decades for women’s rights in both the Spanish state and in Britain. She told the protest of her experiences in the 1980s, when up to 18,000 women travelled to London each year for terminations. Large numbers of women arrived from Ireland and Northern Ireland to Britain to get an abortion.
When it comes to a woman’s right to choose the abortion reform will take women in the Spanish state back to the fascist regime. From the arrival of Franco’s troops in the 1930s until 1985 abortion was penalized. What kind of democracy is it that we live under today? The 15M movement demanded a radical democracy and rightly so. The trade unions fought for a better society, yet the current government has betrayed any future for the daughters and granddaughters of those who fought and tumbled the fascist dictator.
Social movements have demanded a new type of democracy, a more extended democracy that goes further from the right to vote every four years. The policies of the Spanish government go in the opposite direction, as they strengthen inequality of gender and class. Not all the women will be able to afford abortion. Democracy is impossible if there is oppression. While the minister of Justice Alberto Ruiz Gallardón argues that the new law “defends women’s right of maternity”, people know that it actually increases their vulnerability and demonises them by snatching away their right to choose.
It is obvious that the Spanish state is taking advantage of this period of austerity to make working class people’s lives, especially women’s lives, more precarious. Since the beginning of the recession, the cuts in the public services have already pushed caring responsibilities into the home, where they are mainly done by women. Now, this backward law is questioning women’s judgement to decide about their own bodies and reinforcing their role as mothers and wives at home.
That is why the new Spanish law has been rejected internationally. Defending women’s right to choose in the Spanish state means defending women’s rights internationally.
Next action: 8 March, Women of The World Festival, Southbank