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Spain | Abortion battle kicks off election year



(Madrid) An offensive by the far-right Vox party on abortion, directly inspired by Viktor Orban’s Hungary, has embarrassed the Spanish right and is giving arguments to the left-wing government to mobilize in this election year.

The number two of the region of Castile and León (center), Juan García-Gallardo, caused an intense controversy by announcing last week that doctors in the region would have to offer women wishing to have an abortion to “listen to the heartbeats of their child’s heart” and to see “a video” of the fetus.

A measure intended to “promote the birth rate and support families”, said this member of Vox, the third political force in the country openly opposed to abortion.

This proposal is modeled on a practice in the Hungary of Viktor Orban – a great ally of the far-right Spanish party – where since September pregnant women wishing to have an abortion must first be confronted with the “vital functions” of the fetus.

In Spain, abortion was decriminalized in 1985 and then legalized in 2010. Women can abort there freely until the 14e week of pregnancy and then resort to abortion under certain conditions.

But this right remains strewn with pitfalls, according to the government of Pedro Sanchez, which will soon have Parliament adopt a law providing for strengthening access to abortion in public hospitals where many doctors assert their right to abortion. conscientious objection.


Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez


Led by the conservative Popular Party (PP), with Vox as a minority ally, Castile and León is closely followed by observers as polls give the PP the winner of the national elections scheduled for the end of 2023 but dependent on the party. extreme right to obtain a majority and govern.

On the left, the socialist Pedro Sanchez seized on the subject to try to mobilize a moderate electorate potentially frightened by the ideological offensive of Vox.

In a thinly veiled allusion to Castile and León, the first Spanish region to have the far right in its executive since the end of the Franco dictatorship, he warned in Davos on Tuesday of the danger that the far right comes to power in Europe as part of alliances with the conservative right.

“We must prevent these political forces from entering the institutions […] because the threat is real, especially in countries where far-right forces have the support of traditional conservative parties which open the door to power” for them, he said.

“We will fight them with the same determination and the same conviction as that of the Ukrainians against the Russian forces,” promised the Spanish Prime Minister, according to whom these formations serve as a relay of influence for Vladimir Putin.


In embarrassment, the PP tried to distance itself from Vox by assuring that its ally’s proposal would not apply and that it had not been passed on to doctors in the region. Through the voice of the spokesman for the regional government of Castile and León, Carlos Fernández Carriedo, he accused Pedro Sanchez of “overplaying and making propaganda”.

“No pressure will be put on a woman wishing to voluntarily terminate her pregnancy, as provided by law. Whether in Castile and León or in any other place where the PP governs,” party leader Alberto Núñez Feijóo assured the Telemadrid channel on Tuesday.

Arrived last year at the head of the PP with a moderate image, the latter did not hide his uneasiness vis-à-vis Vox, which “is deeply mistaken” by launching a controversy which “very clearly” benefits the Sanchez government.

The subject has indeed eclipsed other controversies affecting the left-wing government such as the perverse effects of a law intended to toughen the arsenal against rape which led to the release of attackers.

For Antonio Barroso, an analyst with the consulting firm Teneo, by making its mark on the ideological debate, Vox “is trying to open a breach within the PP by launching initiatives that can move the party away from the center”.

A situation that could benefit Pedro Sanchez “to mobilize the left-wing electorate by surfing on his fears of a PP-Vox government”, he adds.

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