December 6, 2021

Spanish government tries to restrict conscientious objection

Right sentiment, wrong country: a demonstration in Buenos Aires  in 2020

The Spanish government is considering measures to restrict conscientious objection for doctors. An editorial in El Pais complains that “in recent years there have been growing signs of a counter-reformist reaction in social sectors that put their own intolerance ahead of other people’s legally protected freedoms, or even prioritize their nostalgia for the days when individual and intimate beliefs, such as religious faith, claimed to exercise an improbable superiority over the beliefs of others.”

The problem is that abortions have been legal in Spain since 1985 – but many doctors still refuse to do them. Most are done in abortion clinics and very few in public hospitals.

The equalities minister has proposed the creation of a mandatory register of healthcare professionals who are conscientious objectors. This already exists for euthanasia.

The General Council of Official Medical Colleges (CGCOM) has declared that “Forcing the conscience of physicians in order to expand the number of physicians available in all communities is, in addition to being unconstitutional, a bad solution, which from the perspective of the medical profession would be considered unacceptable, illegal, and unjust.”

However, the Equality Minister, Irene Montero, would like to see abortion decriminalised and says that “the right of physicians to conscientious objection cannot be above women’s right to decide.”