Zaragoza, Spain — Dr. Mercedes Sobreviera, an obstetrician and gynecologist in this city in northeastern Spain, believes that abortion is a woman’s choice. She says that the “right decision” for a woman is “always what she wants.”
However, as a Spanish doctor, Dr. Sobreviera believed that he had the right to choose and chose not to have an abortion.
Her public hospital, the University Clinic Hospital in Zaragoza, does not do them either. In fact, public hospitals in the area around Aragon, including 1.3 million people, do not do this.
“We are doctors, our call is doctors, and we are here to help people live. We do not decide that this will live and die,” said Dr. Sobreviera. ..
Spain liberalized the abortion law in 2010. Previously, women could only have an abortion in unusual circumstances, but the new law allows all women to have an abortion in the first 14 weeks of pregnancy without restrictions.
However, maps of where abortion is available are not created by national law than Spanish doctors. Doctors often refuse to do them, and across the country.
The situation in Spain provides a window to what other countries may await when significantly different measures in Texas and Mexico have revived the debate over access to abortion. Texas conservative lawmakers have largely banned abortion in the state, but across the border, this month the Mexican Supreme Court has decided to decriminalize abortion there.
The uncertainty in Mexico is whether doctors provide services. This is a question that many Spanish doctors have already answered.
They call themselves “conscientious objectors”. This is a term coined by pacifists who refused military service. And many Spanish doctors, like those who insisted on their moral obligation not to go to war, say they would violate their vow that abortion would not do any harm — it extends to the foetation. It’s a pledge.
“If you think the abortion is right or wrong, that’s one thing. Each person has his or her own standards,” said Dr. Maria Jesus Barco, another obstetrician and gynecologist from Zaragoza, the opponent. Says. “If I have to do that, that’s another thing. It’s not.”
Conscientious objectors to military service are also well established in other countries, such as Italy, cited by doctors working in hospitals that rarely have abortions. And in Argentina, attempts to liberalize the abortion law passed there last year are limited.
According to the latest government statistics, five of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions (equivalent to states) do not offer public hospitals for abortion. Women may have an abortion in a subsidized private clinic, but often have to travel across state boundaries to get an abortion.
That was what Erica Espinosa, 34, had to do in 2015, when she did not have an abortion, after an obstetrician and gynecologist in Logroño called for an abortion.
“Doctors try to convince you that you don’t love your child because you want an abortion,” said Espinosa, who went to the neighboring Navarra area to end her pregnancy. Told. “I felt like I was doing something secret.”
There are no official statistics on the number of opposing doctors working in Spain. However, the country’s left-wing coalition is fully concerned that in July Equality Minister Irene Montero proposed changing the current abortion law to limit the ability of doctors to become opponents. ..
“Conscientious objection to military service is incompatible with women’s rights and cannot prevent women from voluntarily exercising their right to abortion,” the minister said in a statement.
Such words face sharp criticism from the Spanish medical sector.
Eva Maria Martin, a pharmacist who heads the Conscientious Objector Defense Association, a group of advocates for opposing doctors, called the proposal unfair and accused the government of “radical feminism.”
“It’s part of a careless gender ideology that puts women’s freedom first and leaves men’s freedom in the ditch,” she said.
Martin said it is the doctor’s duty to oppose the law that forces them to take actions that they consider unjust.
“When there is a serious conflict between your conscience and the law, morally you must reject it,” she said, giving her nine as evidence of an anti-abortion view. He added that he had a child.
Some doctors have pushed to offer abortions in public hospitals. But in addition to disagreeing with doctors, they say that doctors are rarely trained in medical procedures, so they rarely prove easy.
When Dr. Abel Renancio arrived at the Santiago Apostle Hospital, a facility in the rural town of Miranda de Ebro, his team decided to offer an abortion for the first time. Members of his team were not trained to do them, so they taught themselves using the World Health Organization protocol.
“The technique is very simple,” said Dr. Renancio, an obstetrician and gynecologist. “I had no experience before, but if I am willing to do it, I can.”
Still, the willingness to expand abortion options may be an exception.
Sylvia Desold, an Italian researcher at the European Abortion Access Project studying abortion barriers, advocates abortion rights Many older doctors witness the consequences of a secret procedure and participate in legalization discussions He said he developed their view after doing so. However, many of those doctors have since retired.
“The new generation had no such experience or memory,” she said.
Among the states where abortion has stopped is Jaen, an olive-growing region in Andalusia, southern Spain.
Feminist activist Juana Peragon there said she had not received state funding and charged women for about $ 400, but for some time a clinic provided them.
However, the clinic has been closed for years due to remodeling, Peragon said. Many women are now being sent to Seville, about 150 miles away, for abortion.
“You can see a concrete test of the distance between what the law says and how it applies,” said Peragon, who says that much of Spain is socially conservative. Yes, it continues to conflict with the law. “It is impossible to have an abortion in Jaen.”
Spanish doctors, such as Zaragoza’s opponent, Dr. Sobreviera, said the debate was not as clear as some activists assembled it.
She said the abortion law passed in 2010 was several points ahead of where Spanish society was at the time, and many doctors were surprised.
Dr. Sobreviera said he remembers attending a hospital-wide meeting in Zaragoza to discuss the new law and asked him to raise his hand if doctors and others objected. “99 percent of us were conscientious objectors,” she said. “Almost everyone: doctors, nursing staff, assistants, security guards.”
In his day-to-day work, Dr. Sobreviera continues to focus on prenatal care and diagnoses pregnant women to screen for signs of birth defects such as Down’s syndrome and heart problems that can be detected in the foetation.
From time to time, she said that in most cases the mother would ask her about the abortion when the defect could be fatal. Dr. Sobreviera said they could be very difficult conversations.
But she also warns those who choose to end their pregnancy. Under Spanish law, she said doctors could explain the possible “psychological and social” consequences of abortion.
According to Dr. Sobreviera, the patient came to her the day after the foetation was diagnosed with heart disease.
“She was suffering, and I was with her afterwards, and she asked:’This will happen soon? I want to solve this problem,” recalls Dr. Sobreviera. She said she was in the process of having an abortion.
“And I said:’They aren’t going to get rid of your problem, they’ll just get rid of …