Vox makes abortion a campaign issue
AAt first glance, it just seems like a gentle reminder to reconsider. Since Monday, a new guideline for doctors has been in force in the Spanish region of Castile and León, to whom women who are going to a abortion have decided that health workers should first offer them a 4D ultrasound image of the fetus and the opportunity to hear the heartbeat, as well as information about psychological help.
The aim is to dissuade women from their desire, because more children are “vital for survival” in Spain, said Deputy Regional President Juan García-Gallardo of the right-wing populist Vox party.
With the push from the provinces, Vox opened the election year and immediately provoked a heated debate. Local, regional and parliamentary elections are due in Spain in 2023. The ruling left-wing coalition only reformed the abortion law in December. Now mothers have the right to an abortion from the age of 16 without the need for parental or court consent. All state hospitals must perform abortions free of charge within the first 14 weeks. In addition, the morning-after pill will be available free of charge in the future. In parliament, Vox and the conservative People’s Party (PP) voted against the reform. This year wants the Spanish constitutional court decide on a lawsuit by the PP.
“Improved access”, no obligation
For the left minority government of Pedro Sanchez and especially the junior partner Podemos, the reform of the “Sexual and Reproductive Health Law” is one of their most important projects. The government therefore reacted sharply and quickly. She formally asked the regional Ministry of Health in Castilla y León not to authorize or apply any measures that violate current regulations. All legal means will be used and women’s freedom and rights will be defended.
On Monday there was confusion. Deputy Prime Minister Juan García-Gallardo of Vox emphasized that the new “protocolo” is “binding on all health professionals”. The PP regional president Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, on the other hand, denied that there were any new guidelines at all: Doctors and women were not forced to do anything. In the past week, only “improved access” to services for pregnant women had been decided. The left-wing central government wants to make political gains from the dispute, “but we will not make women hostage in this debate,” said the regional president.
The first coalition with Vox put his PP in a difficult position politically. The national party leadership is courting centrist voters, preferring to remain silent on the recent dispute. According to all polls so far, however, the PP needs the right-wing populists to replace the Sánchez government. After the disappointing election results in Andalusia and internal party disputes, Vox is trying to build on the electoral success in Castile-León with abortion and similar issues. There, Juan García-Gallardo already blamed the “hypersexualization” of society for the dramatic depopulation in inland Spain. Sex has become an end in itself, and people have forgotten “that the main purpose of sexual intercourse is reproduction,” said the 31-year-old Vox politician. The lawyer joined the party just under two years ago. He was named the top candidate after a casting.
According to the Spanish media, the model for his latest initiative is the tightening of Hungarian abortion laws last year; Vox has good relations with Victor Orbán. In future, Hungarian women will be required to listen to the heartbeat of the embryo before receiving a certificate with which they can then have an abortion. Vox’s party program lists the “protection of life from conception to natural death” as one of the most important goals. The party wants to abolish the new euthanasia law and the “right to free abortion”.
But she is not waiting for that, as the newspaper “El País” reports. At the “Forum for Life” last November in Madrid, to which Italian and Polish right-wing populists also traveled, Vox MPs spoke of making it more difficult for women who want to have an abortion by taking smaller steps – and putting them “in the wringer gain weight”.