Spain Considering Paid Leave for Women with Severe Period Symptoms

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MADRID — The Spanish government approved a bill Tuesday that would make Spain the first European country to allow women to work for menstrual pain and expand access to abortion.

Under the new law, women will be entitled to leave if a doctor diagnoses them with severe menstrual pain. The cost would be borne by the state. Among other measures taken to help women with their period, Spain’s left-wing government also decided that schools should provide sanitary pads to students who request it.

Regulatory changes to assist women during menstruation are part of a broader legislative overhaul that the Socialist-led government has asked Parliament to approve, with the aim of reinforcing women’s right to abortion. The draft law expands access to abortion for minors, allowing the procedure from age 16 without proper parent or guardian consent. It would also repeal a previous rule that forced a woman to confirm her choice three days after requesting an abortion.

Pushing for the law, Spain’s equality minister Irene Montero defended the law as a necessary response to decades of demands by feminist associations to advance women’s health rights. “This is a law that shows what Spain is and what the feminist movement in Spain is,” Montero said. I said On the breakfast show of Spain’s national television broadcaster. We will be the first country in Europe to talk about menstrual health as a health standard and we will eliminate this stigma, shame, guilt and loneliness that women often experience during their menstrual period.

The government’s plan comes amid a long-running ideological battle over abortion in Spain. Right-wing opposition parties, led by the People’s Party and with the support of the Catholic Church, applied to the Constitutional Court for the annulment of Spain’s latest abortion law, which was approved in 2010 by the previous Socialist government. The 2010 law set a 14-week gestation period for a woman to seek an abortion, and this period can be extended to 22 weeks if there is a serious risk of fetal deformity.

In recent weeks, some right-wing lawmakers have been locked into a leaked document suggesting that the United States Supreme Court will revoke the right to abortion in America, to bolster their argument that a similar legal U-turn is needed in Spain. The debate in the United States was Roe v. It began with the publication of a court hearing on Wade this month.

In Spain, abortion was decriminalized in 1985 by the first Socialist government that took office after Spain’s return to democracy, but the issue has remained a political hot potato ever since, subject to legal changes each time different administrations take office. A decade ago, a conservative government tried to force legislative changes that would significantly limit the conditions under which abortion was allowed. After mass street protests, the project was abandoned and the justice minister who had pushed for it was forced to resign.

The bill aims to guarantee access to abortion in public hospitals in a country where many doctors refuse to have abortions and force women to go to private clinics or elsewhere. In particular, the bill will force regional governments to establish a register of doctors who refuse to perform abortions.

Bill draws attention dysmenorrheaSevere pain that women can experience during menstruation that can leave them too weak to function. But the medical profession in Spain is also divided over whether the treatment of menstrual problems requires specific law.

“I really don’t understand why we need this new law when there are so many options now to avoid the debilitating pain that can make it impossible for most women to work,” said Hortensia García Briz, a gynecologist. in Madrid. “I think the feminist movement in this country has taken things to the extreme and taken it out of context, which doesn’t really help women,” she added. “I believe the goal should be to fully reveal that a woman’s period is something that should be painful, and instead make it clear that gynecology has devised many products to relieve her.”

Only a few countries around the world—mostly in Asia—have passed laws that cater to women with menstrual cramps. In 1947, Japan became the first country to give women menstrual leave, but its use has declined over the past decade, largely attributed to social pressures for women to come to work. MPs in Italy debated the law to allow women to menstruate, but the Italian Parliament rejected the idea in 2017.

Faride Ojeda, gynecologist at a private hospital in Madrid, says the only positive aspect of the government’s menstrual law is that it guarantees women their wages while they are off work, but “as both a feminist and a gynecologist, I don’t want that. It is a law that presents the term as a disease and may even persuade more men not to employ more women, thereby further reducing our opportunities in the workplace.”

Government officials in Madrid said on Tuesday they hope the law could come into effect before the end of next year, when Spain will hold its next national elections. However, the draft law faces a difficult road before that and may also undergo various changes during its review in both houses of Parliament.

Even before Tuesday’s presentation, details of the draft law have sparked tensions within the coalition government. estimated cost. Ms Montero, the minister for equality, did not accept a proposal to remove the value-added tax on the sale of sanitary napkins and other related products.