A BIZARRE dispute over abortion measures has unleashed a crisis in the Junta de Castilla y León, and has also dragged down the central Administration in Madrid.
It all started last Thursday, when the far-right Vox party – the junior partner in government – announced a new protocol for pregnant women in the northern region who want to terminate a pregnancy.
According to the announcement by the deputy prime minister, Juan García-Gallardo, from Vox, as of Monday it will be mandatory to offer women the possibility of listening to fetal heartbeats and seeing a 4D ultrasound before proceeding with the termination.
But the plans have caused a rift between Gallardo and the coalition’s main group, the conservative Popular Party (PP).
The regional president, Alfonso Fernández Mañueco, has made some public statements on Monday in which he has denied that the abortion protocols are going to be modified and that nothing that can be interpreted as ‘coercion’ is not acted on to prevent a woman from terminating her pregnancy . the pregnancy.
Under Spain’s decentralized system, each region is in charge of its own health system. However the the law covering the right to abortion is national.
To further complicate the situation, there are no documents on the protocol, despite Vox insisting that it would go into effect on Monday.
This has not stopped the central government from taking action. On Tuesday, the administration of the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, of the Socialist Party (PSOE), took the first step to take the matter to the Constitutional Court.
The central government, a coalition of the PSOE and junior partner Unidas Podemos, has made women’s rights one of its key policy points and he is determined to stop what he perceives as reversals.
The Council of Ministers today approved an agreement that calls on the regional authorities to refrain from adopting “any action that violates or undermines” the extinction law.
The region now has a month to respond, and if it doesn’t, a ‘conflict of powers’ case will be brought to the Constitutional Court. When this happens, the measure in question is automatically suspended for six months.
But for now the ‘measure in question’ does not exist on paper. In fact, the regional president Mañueco wrote a letter to Sánchez making it clear, accusing the Prime Minister of using the issue as ‘propaganda’.
For his part, the general secretary of Vox, Ignacio Garriga, threatened on Tuesday that the coalition agreement between the PP and Vox in the region will be reviewed if the conservative party does not fulfill its promise to approve a new protocol on abortion.
The national leader of the PP, Alberto Núñez Feijoo, added his voice to that of Mañueco, insisting that “the Government of Castilla y León is not going to modify its protocol for the treatment of pregnant women.”
Whatever the outcome of the dispute between the right-wing parties, the incident is giving the PSOE a reason to attack the regional government, which is the only one in Spain currently run by a far-right and right-wing coalition.
According to polls leading up to next year’s general election, there is a strong possibility that a PP-Vox coalition will be one of the options on the table should the results prove inconclusive.