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Women, abortion, migration and political, medical and religious discourses in

Catalonia (Spain)
Mara E. Martínez Morant
Ph.D. Cultural and Social Anthropology
Key words: women; abortion; medical, political and religious discourses

Introduction
When planning this research I proposed to explore the experiences of women who had
to face the decision of having an abortion and go through this operation after having
confirmed they were pregnant. I wished to undertake an approach that would allow me
to understand the impact of abortion on women who go through this experience. I
imagined the influence of medical discourse, legal–political discourse, and religious
discourse would be closely linked to it, and later established that this was the case. An
influence on the decision to abort is construed, among other things, as women
experiencing an extremely painful process when they have an abortion; doubting the
legality of abortion in Spain; using methods of abortion that put women’s lives at risk;
feelings like a criminal for having had an abortion; not realizing that women have the
right to have an abortion; and to go ahead with an unwanted pregnancy.
Despite being legal in Spain since 1985 1 , abortion is a life event that seems hard to talk
about. It is often approached with dislike, showing that people know there is such a
thing as abortion but do not approve of it, and even if they have had contact with the
practice, they still reject it. Or that it may not concern the family itself, nor the group or
environment in which people live. The level of disapproval of abortion runs parallel to
an apparent tolerance, though most of the women who have abortions do so secretly,
as does the medical personnel who perform them.
Consequently, abortion is a sensitive issue that must be considered in depth, and the
first obstacle to this was the restricted access to the people upon whom I wished to
conduct ethnographical research. To select the interviewees, I had to request the
cooperation of women who came to a social resource for abortion. In the case of this
research, it was an Association 2 that runs an aid program to finance abortions for
women who live in Catalonia. I had the opportunity to provide my services there for
several years and attended to several thousands of women who came to the center to
apply for social and financial assistance. After planning how I would conduct the
research, I requested permission from the Association to begin approaching potential
interviewees.
I invited potential interviewees to participate in the research in the course of the
interviews I conducted as part of my job, which was to attend the vulnerable women
from different origins that approached the Association to ask for social and financial
assistance in order to pay for a legally induced abortion 3 . Therefore, the study group in
1

At the time of my research, the governing law was Spanish Organic Law 9/ 1985, of July 5, 1985,
reforming the Spanish Penal Code with the incorporation of Article 417bis to it (hereinafter referred to as
“Organic Law 9/1985”). Nevertheless, a new law on abortion was passed in Spain on February 24, 2010.
2
For the purpose of maintaining anonymity, I will always refer to the social resource where I worked
attending to women who came to request social and financial assistance to have an abortion as the
“Association.”
3
I write “legally induced abortion” because it fits the provisions of Spanish Organic Law 9/1985, which
specifies three cases in which a woman may have an abortion: 1) deformation of the fetus up to 22 into the
pregnancy; 2) on account of rape, after filing a report with the police and before 12 weeks of pregnancy; 3)
if the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman is at risk, in which case there is no time limit.

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of these. Consequently.8% of the total recorded in Spain – Non-financed and financed) 20. both in the autonomous regions and on the national level. All of them were recorded digitally. whose tales will explain some of the different aspects of abortions performed on women whose names and origins I deliberately omit. I must highlight an aspect that had an impact on the scope of the research. In all. for I percieve the system of ‘chiaroscuro’ and ‘ambiguity’ that surrounds abortion. the pre-abortion interviews lasted 2 hours. In the public health network. a specific population was selected for the ethnographical research. Out of a total of 112 interviewees. and the number of women in the study group make the issue clear: Total number of (VTOPs) 5 practiced in Spain in 2006 (Spanish Department of Health and Consumer Affairs. with which I will completed the group of women studied. I recommenced the phase of inviting new potential interviews to participate.this research was women.123 Total number of VTOPs financed in Catalonia 2006 (Association. in the case of Catalonia. The data published by the Spanish Department of Health and Consumer Affairs. but also managed to interview 46 of them before they had an abortion. It consisted of successive periods of 1½ to 2 months. 5 Abortion is also referred to in Spain as “Voluntary Termination of Pregnancy. 2007:6) 4. 2007:17) (Non-financed and financed) 101. I conducted 46 interviews with women before they had their abortion. as you will see in the course of this research. this term does not match the features of current legislation. I repeated the process six times. and either Catalan or Spaniards who were living in precarious situations and came to the Association. where. they were referred to legally authorized private clinics. I conducted the ethnographical research on a group of 112 women. to analyze and contrast the variability between the ‘before’ and the ‘after’ when one has an abortion. 4 where they could have an abortion. the clinics are private and are where the majority of the abortions are performed. the data in the Association’s 2006 Report. the number of abortions performed is just under 3% of the total. whereas the post-abortion interviews were between 3 and 4 hours long each. may give a perspective that does not completely reflect the real life situation shared by all of the women who have an abortion. immigrants. Women on whom the ethnographical research was conducted I implemented the process for forming the group of interviewees on whom I was conducting the research in several stages. therefore. because out of all the women in Spain who have abortions. the data presented in this research correspond to a specific segment of the population. During these periods I invited the potential interviewees to take part in this research and. and do not even invent. 2007:28) (19. On average.592 Total number of VTOPs in Catalonia in 2006 (Spanish Department of Health and Consumer Affairs. 2 . while transcribing the interviews. The data. the Association only attends to those who live in Catalonia and. Despite the effort to prevent bias. if necessary. only those who had financial problems and needed help to pay for a legally induced abortion.” although.210 4 Not only in Catalonia but in the whole of Spain. from March 2007 up until I finish in February 2008. I interviewed all the women in depth after their abortion.

and broadly speaking. followed by women from the Kingdom of Morocco. The women came from several different countries. from Romania (Association. some of them find themselves having to face unwanted pregnancies and abortions. 66% were foreigners and 34% were Spanish and Catalan (Association. This is because the number of children born of immigrant women increased by 16.14). or they were unemployed and received no state benefits or financial assistance. immigrant women tend to have more children (compared to the currently recorded number of children born to Spanish and Catalan women) 7 . Notably. and the Republic of Peru). the average number of children that women in Catalonia have is higher than even the Spanish national average (1. For instance. the Association’s 2007 Report had not yet been published.4% in 2007. there was a news item that declared Catalonia had regained the fertility rate of 1984 with 1. and the knowledge of usage of methods of 6 At the time of this research.8% of the total number of births registered in Catalonia that year.39). with the largest group being made up of Latin American women (the Plurinational State of Bolivia. with poor salaries. The article reported that due to 10 consecutive years of growth. to the foreign population.92% of the total recorded in Catalonia) Interviewees in the study group (2. The level of autonomy of nearly all of these women was subject to low-qualified jobs. This now means that. whereas the remaining 30% were Spanish and Catalan. the study group comprised 112 women of ages 15 to 38. Many of them are also in more dire straits than the Spanish and Catalan women because they have no job or. 2007:16). 6 Out of the total number. the largest group was of single women. This circumstance indicates that their financial situation is the main reason for seeking an abortion. and even for that they need financial support Many immigrant women come to the Association to request social and financial assistance for this reason. according to this media. in which they cohabitated. Foreign or immigrant interviewees Amongst the flow of immigrants recorded in Catalonia in the last few years.66% of the total number of VTOPs financed in Catalonia) 112 With regard to the general characteristics that enabled a benchmark social profile to be identified. Moroccan women were the ones who had the most children. many young women are arriving who are or will soon be of reproductive age. normally within the black economy. the job itself is very unstable. if they have one.48. even though Spanish women have more children. This is the reason for the difference between the data I have taken from the 2006 Report (66% foreigners and 34% Catalan and Spanish) which you will see further on. 2008. a figure which constitutes 18.(20. which is a big difference to the low average recorded in 1995 (1. the study group was made up of young girls and women from different social backgrounds and cultures. out of the total number of women attended in 2006. 2007:16). accounting for 21. This trend in geographic distribution displayed in the Association’s Report was naturally preserved in the interviews conducted. in 2007 the fertility rate (which measures the number of children per woman of childbearing age) reached its highest level since 1984. I am therefore presenting the data gathered from my research which show that the number of immigrant women who approached the Association was rising. of July 4. the increase in the fertility rate is due. 70% of the women interviewed were foreigners. and the data from my research (70% foreign women and 30% Spanish and Catalan women). According to the text of the article. at 1. and lastly. 3 .48 per woman. in an important part. The number of immigrant women who have approached the Association has increased over the past few years. many of whom had relationships that lasted less than 2 years.6% of the total number of births given by foreign women. the Republic of Ecuador. Thus. 7 In the ‘Demographics’ section of the newspaper El Periódico de Catalunya. Due to a number of different factors.

He said that I was very young …and without a partner…. With regard to the Moroccan women. abortion is a virtually unknown practice. 9 “Family reunification”: Under the current law. even if they have had a perhaps striking number of several sudden miscarriages. from their families and from their community of reference. In contrast. These women have a primary education and. immigrant women may start the application process for family reunification. More precisely. they say. Likewise. the use of which would seem more appropriate in the allegedly lay societies of the West. I have no one …all of my family are over there. they mostly use the Ogino-Knaus rule (the ‘calendar method’ or ‘counting the days’. as is the use of methods of contraception. deliberately or through unintention or negligence …. and secondly. Based on the interviews. while blaming only the woman for the pregnancy.) who can provide them with help and protection if they need it. it recurs in the stories in the form of regret for failing to comply with the law of God. they are extremely lonely: “…I’m here alone. in my country ….”. extended family. the term for this is “reunifying” someone. “blame” becomes “… subjective element of the crime…. They have one or more children. The notions of blame and guilt have penetrated culture so intensely that the synonym “responsibility” becomes virtually invisible. 8 This level of reoccurrence made me curious as to the conditions and causes of these supposedly spontaneous miscarriages.” Theological fault is the “voluntary contravention of the law of God…. and also when immigrant women ‘reunite’ 9 with their partners. 10 Generally. partner.” or “…the doctor did not want to place the ‘T’ [IUD] in me. which they refer to as the ‘T’ or ‘Copper-T’. Many women assume the pregnancy as part of their own ‘blame’ 10 . abortion is an accessible resource to Romanian women and it is relatively normal for them to have had more than one abortion.” At the same time. which is not very reliable. friendships. because “…it is God who decides if you become pregnant or not…. By order of the number of times they were mentioned. very alone. even reunified husbands will. A large number of the immigrant women are in single-parent families.” and in Law. the majority have no network of contacts in Spanish society (mother. as the interviewees call it).” is a frequent statement in their stories. abortion is not particularly common. the intrauterine device (IUD). who are looked after by their maternal relatives (only occasionally by the fathers or their paternal relatives) in the countries of origin. as well as the way these women perceive abortion. the men will abandon the woman when they find out she is pregnant. Colloquially. since there is a strong connection between the individual and inner experience of guilt and different Western religious ideologies. etc. according to their stories. They do not use contraception. 2003). for instance. completely alone.” “…in my country. Solitude is a further factor that increases the likelihood of an unwanted pregnancy. the reasons why these women have an abortion are as follows: lack of the economic resources to raise a child. a man who uses a condom is a sissy…. “blame” is the failure to fulfill moral or legal obligations. And usually neither they nor their partner uses contraception. The unwanted pregnancies tend to arise following a relationship (with or without cohabitation) lasting between 2 or 3 months and 2 years. In this respect. to arrange for their partners and their daughters and sons to emigrate to the country (who are legally permitted to live in the country. I found out that a lot of times the miscarriage was the result of acts of violence perpetrated by the pregnant woman’s partner against her. and even relieve their partner of any blame for the pregnancy. but not work in it). 8 Latin American women do not use contraception much.contraception is very different. 4 . to a lesser extent. that is. and when they do. Living far away from their sons and daughters. Meanwhile. In very few cases have they been educated at a higher level. for Latin American women. Romanian women are the ones who use the contraceptive pill and condoms the most. I observed that the most unwanted pregnancies and abortions usually take place between a few months and the first 2 or 3 years of the women’ residence in Catalonia. Frequently. once they have lived in Spain for 5 years or more. the term “guilt” means the personal inner feeling of one’s own responsibility in the perpetration of what one considers a crime or offense (Diccionario La Enciclopedia. from their partners. a secondary education.

Apart from the financial instability. the impossibility of employment that having a child would entail. whose salaries tended to only just meet the family’s needs. to have an abortion in view of the responsibility that having a child entails and not being able to provide them with the necessary care and the belief that God “will understand” their dilemma and the choice they made. they had no one who can look after the baby while they were at work. or they could not afford a nursery or secure a state benefit for this purpose. leading to separations and arguments. several women left their jobs when they become pregnant. claiming that they did not enjoy studying. and later many of them suffer intensely for having undergone the operation. From the interviews I detected that in quite a short space of time the first conflicts between the woman and her husband or partner would arise. However. with a certain frequency.abandonment by their partner. since they had not worked enough time to be eligible for it. not wishing to have a child at the time the woman became pregnant. Spanish and Catalan Interviewees The majority of Spanish and Catalan women interviewed come from Barcelona city and its metropolitan area. This does not mean that they do not go through an emotionally difficult time during the process they must follow for the abortion and afterwards. having no partner.” “I’m a very staunch Catholic. Most of them had a secondary school education. Often they had not been in education at a higher level. and most of them from an urban context. since their level of education prevented them from rejoining the labor market. although in several cases they had not completed these studies. in between which unwanted pregnancies occur. most of the women had an eclectic stance. The most recurrent reasons why these women decided to have an abortion can be categorized into: not having the economic resources to have a child (or another one). and other reasons. based on the notion of ‘lesser evil’. “very believing. these women were forced to become housewives and to depend on the income of their husbands or partners. With regard to religious practices and their influence on coming to terms with abortion. for instance. thus becoming dependent on their husband or partner. had to work because their families needed money. 5 . Therefore. and not wishing to have a child at a specific time. or they worked within the black economy. later followed by reconciliations and further separations. They were unable to go back to this same employment situation after they had their child. Spanish and Catalan women expressed their pain and their feelings of guilt for getting pregnant and having to have an abortion. That is.” or “I truly believe in God.” Under these epithets they have an abortion. or being too young. the solitude and the major social and cultural change immigrant women must experience. parentage of one or more children already.” “very devout Evangelical. started to have boyfriends. these women were in vulnerable circumstances due to a lack of financial resources because they did not have a stable job and they did not receive state benefits for unemployment. they must also tackle the contradiction that having an abortion entails if religious beliefs lead them to say they are. In most of the cases recorded. and tensions progressively acted upon their relationship. In most cases.

and sexually transmitted infections. This is clear from the explanations given by the interviewees. Resources for sexual and reproductive health that. abortion and maternity may have in different cultures. for instance. Without a shadow of a doubt. For this reason. with regard to sexual and reproductive health services (in the interest of “taking care of themselves. for often they do not know how the health system works and how to use it. an endemic lack of information. for public health is a right in Spain. have not been resolved in practice. as if they were solely the woman’s responsibility. the changes that have taken place in Spain in the last thirty years have been remarkable and have made fundamental changes to the lives of Spanish women. and the poor transfer of information by certain sectors of medical personnel in general. as a sign of their masculinity. the divorce law in 1981.” as the interviewees refer to it. one would believe to have been dealt with in Catalan society today. i.e. 6 . and involve a complex process. specific aspects must be considered. Currently. Driven by the above-mentioned circumstances. Another such aspect is the men’s inhibition where contraceptive precautions are concerned. the rules and regulations are interpreted as a statement of maturity or of a healthy lifestyle based on prevention and on women taking care of themselves. Some of the most common aspects.. the legalization of abortion in three specific circumstances in 1985. are the scarce resources allocated for addressing the sexual and reproductive health of men and women. overcrowding. This is reflected in the decision many women make to look after their reproductive health to the point of feeling “solely responsible” for this care. despite the presumed progress. to some extent. but at the same time based on personal resources and capabilities. and progress in the achievement of equal rights for men and women. This is apart from other factors. the inherent failures of methods of contraception themselves. whether due to the lack of doctor’s prescription (particularly in the case of emergency contraception) or due to its price. immigrants or otherwise Many of the immigrant women and Spanish and Catalan women referred to the problems and barriers they had to face to have access to reproductive and sexual health services. I can assert that immigrant women are undergoing the same process that most Spanish and Catalan women have been undertaking over the past 30 years. have important deficiencies which affect not only immigrant women but all women.Observations on the sexual and reproductive health of the women. such as the legalization of contraceptives in 1978. furthermore. such as the difficulties women have in using the methods of contraception correctly. Men also argue that “It’s not the same” (what they experience cannot be compared to using a condom) or because “God wishes to send a child. and the meaning that health. You should not disrespect Him by preventing it. the use of contraception and the prevention of sexually transmitted infections). pregnancy. certain issues persist. difficulty in acquiring contraception. The issue is that conditions which. such as not understanding of the language. These restrictions and setbacks affect immigrant women even more so. delays of several months in the provision of services. illness. After analyzing the data obtained. the ‘default’ outcomes of these actions are unwanted pregnancies. abortions.” Normally. and even the refusal to use a condom.

Based on this approach.Medical discourse and maternity To some extent. defining and reinventing women as guided reproductive individuals. making women prisoners of their reproductive function and giving it a status beyond medical technology to place it in the realm of the social. biomedical knowledge is the official representation of the body. the State makes a decision using the regulatory power it exercises through medicine. and death are organized in such a way that death goes from being an event experienced to an event studied (Foucault. Often doctors accompany their physical activity with moral manipulation. Understood as good and rewarding. 146–147) shows how revolutionary attitudes towards the body and disease were established in the 18th century. although socio-cultural ways and content are diverse. therefore. This perspective can be extrapolated to the ‘politicization’ and ‘decision’ for the practice of abortion. In this context. and the power to define it by naming it. the specific operation in which a woman becomes the ‘gynecologized woman’ (Nievas. it is the manner in which medical knowledge views women. but political ones and. nor are they definitively dead until a death certificate has been issued. Medicine. 7 . In other words. it is constantly subordinating the body to power. 1983: 200–203 and 317–318). and each one according to its own logic. Medicine is a disciplining operator that consolidates established doctrine. Foucault (1983: 143. an undoubted form of political power. and affects people from birth to death. medical and social factors must all be united. is a type of domination of the body because it unites power over the individual and over society as a body. therefore. According to Nievas. whose disorders can be foreseen and controlled. it is obvious in the case of in health management by members of a country’s government. According to Detrez (2002:141). to pronounce a patient as ill. 1999:187). The body was transformed into an ‘organism’. The creation of new medical categories is a highly powerful tool because it allows a byproduct of the connection between social and political powers to be placed in a biological sphere. construed as a fault committed voluntarily: “…The gynecologist told me…she said it’s your fault. if you had made him use a condom you would not be pregnant…” The moral discourse in medicine acquires a preventive tone. It is crosscutting. made obvious in the colossal subject that is public health. assumed by individuals as “what must be” and based on principles that have a growing intention to control spheres of supposed intimacy. which is a political maneuver performed on the body of women. based on individual responsibility. 1999:186). These are physical and moral actions that have a more powerful impact on the women by way of gynecologization. aspects of life. illness. In this way. that is. where economic. for this reason. in the sense that the patient acknowledges the doctors’ authority. they are not fully alive if medicine does not manage their health. which are two essential features of medicine. and it plays a fundamental role in control of the body. are developmental processes as well an exercise of power over bodies. medicine has dual powers: the power to identify disease. observation and examination. even on individual blame. It is a “…raison d’etat metamorphosed into medical interest” (Nievas. Health. and the organism into a useful or a reparable tool. Agamben (1998:212) points out that life and death are not scientific concepts. It is medicalization. the doctor’s aim is both to provide care and to play a role in society. they only take on an exact meaning by way of a ‘decision’ linked to what he calls the ‘state of exception’. The medical discourse on health becomes a moral discourse. upon the State establishing the terms and conditions for its legality or illegality. that is. is a political domain.

changes the symbolic representation of the inside of the female body and of the inside of the womb. ‘baby’. life-creating space and becomes a visible place that can be explored and monitored medically. which ceases to be a mysterious. the symbolic effects of which are imprinted on women’s mindset. for which the woman carrying it is responsible and yet. There is always an effort being made to create a new classification. at the same time. Other approaches do not allow this distinction. Therefore. associating it with a categorization that aims to be concise and ‘scientific’ in order to establish the legal. because society as a whole becomes legally responsible for a being identified as a ‘person’. religious. for instance. which shall or shall not be born. the internal conflict. Motherhood understood as the destiny of women and fertility as ‘divine will’. and the embryo or the fetus becomes a visible ‘being’. not as women who may. These are precise terms. there are those who use the term ‘pre-embryo’ to refer to the human embryo in the first stage of its development. In the sphere of science.” when facing the decision to have an abortion. This categorization creates a symbolic representation that 8 . in the form of ultrasound. medical. in quite a number of cases. at least so far. seems as if it could have happened suddenly. the dilemma arises. The application of medical technology. pregnant women are referred to as mothers. causing them to integrate ideas that stress their role and destiny as ‘mothers’ Whenever abortion is mentioned or written about in the media. has been the female body. linked to the intention to legitimize scientific research using little-developed organisms. and are of the understanding that the embryo stage consists of the moment of conception through to 90 days of pregnancy. social and cultural aspects of abortion. In bioethics. when faced with the decision to have an abortion and to go ahead with the operation. motherhood is the attainment of the female desire to be fertile and the creation of a being. Perhaps this situation is created by the fact that the ultrasound image makes the embryo and the fetus take on a human dimension and. and. based on this symbolic construction. identified in the stories of the interviewees. for instance. at which point the embryo is then referred to as the ‘fetus’. Even while they acknowledged the abstract nature of their attitude. to refer to different stages of the embryo’s or fetus’ development. which. or may not wish to be mothers.The body acquires particular importance when it can procreate. when it can become maternal. or “what happens inside of me. due to the effect of socialization and the power ideology. To have the abortion is perceived as a betrayal of a ‘symbolic child’ upon whom. it is no longer completely hers. on the other hand. as an interviewee explains: “…I wasn’t expecting to get pregnant. and automatically classing it as ‘child’. Ultimately. owing to its visualization. with the term ‘pre-embryo’. the intrusion of technology into the intimacy of the female body is justified by the claim that they help women to accomplish their wish to become a mother or to have an abortion. ethical. with its own entity. status as a human being in its own right is conferred. most of the interviewees expressed their dilemma. The view into the womb ‘opens up’ the body of women. or ‘offspring’. more specifically.” even when the pregnancy was only beginning. which are not purely technical. an imaginary one where nature and the material existence of the being are concerned. it was just one time [a single sexual encounter]…and after so much time…that I didn’t even think about it…” Motherhood. thought of as “bringing a child into the world” is considered a universal experience since the framework for all human beings. quite a number of the interviewees show signs of pain and anguish for having “killed my child. This is because medicine has a partial control over the embryo or fetus. It seems that the number of terms for what is in the womb is multiplying. This can be observed.

in most cases. the legal question arises and there is debate about its status as a person and fetal rights. the controversies the embryo or fetus poses are connected to dilemmas that would not have arisen if the embryo or fetus had not been represented. kept out of time. there are situations that lead to claims for compensation filed against medical personnel for accidentally destroyed fetuses. Legislation is created according to the political ideology of each government in each society. in most cases. La Rioja. It is not the embryo itself that poses the controversy. often. and to the practices for abortion. So it seems that the law is a mere device used by the dominant classes to consolidate their power. or as ‘lives being destroyed’. Whether it is considered part of the body or a detached product of it. the Basque Country. but also in the legal sphere. which is constantly arbitrated by specific members of society who can decide whether a particular judgment or other is inappropriate. This deficiency is the cause of the huge inequalities concerning information. When a new political party comes to power. or against the woman who was pregnant for not having observed a required treatment for the fetus. the Balearic Islands. a potential person or a cluster of cells. artificial reproduction methods. it is possible to go from a situation such as that of Navarre. Furthermore. although previously they had been in accordance to law. or for accidents to the fetus in the womb of the pregnant woman. According to Boltanski (2004:188). for drug addiction. the situation of access to abortion in Spain is riddled with inequalities. they may cease to be so later. no autonomous region has a protocol for approaching abortion. Castile-La Mancha. Abortion and legal–political discourse In abortion. etc. since it is kept cold. laws are abolished. Therefore. which are closely connected to the political–legal discourse on the selection of sex. Based on the visualization of the embryo or fetus. in which the embryo seemingly becomes a virtual object. where the operation is arranged with private clinics and. This poses conflicts for couples or for women who. there will always be a symbolic interpretation: that of a mechanical perspective of a human being. This situation is apparent in a country in which the public health service performs less than 3% of abortion operations and in which the cost of the operation is assumed. Therefore. Following these fictions. and come to act against individuals themselves. dishonest. and Navarre— have no system to ensure financing for abortion.. In the judicial domain there is the law. the law may not be completely detached from moral issues. though. but the fact that it is protected outside of the body. as ‘God’s gift’. cannot bear the thought of disposing of embryos because the symbols imagined lead them to think of embryos as ‘tangible children’. by the women themselves. there are in 10 autonomous regions in total in the services catalogue of the Spanish National Health Service — Extremadura. Cantabria. based on values of their own. fetal rights are an attack on the right of women because it allows the legal authorities to place themselves between women and the use they wish to make of their bodies. without the risk of losing its strength. financed. the Canary Islands. 9 . although each autonomous region and the two autonomous cities 11 in Spain has a certain level of competence in decisions regarding 11 In spite of the governing legislation. to that of Andalusia. Even though abortion has been legalized (in three circumstances). It is pure medical creation using artificial reproduction technology. and abortion service provision. Aragon. financing.acknowledges the fetus as a person and gives rise to the emergence of fetal rights. in which no public or private clinic performs abortions. appropriate. and of a mechanical process being more human. amended or ordered so that. With regard to Spanish legislation. legal. The question of the embryo’s status stems in part from the purpose of the medical practices. Abortion legislation is one of the issues subjected to this kind of political intervention. and outside of the body. formulated in a language different to the legal domain. not only in the context of the visual.

provided that the abortion is performed within the first twenty-two weeks of the pregnancy and the medical opinion. since it partially explains the ratification of Organic Law 9/1985 and the abortion scenario in Spain. The original article. and who holds an appropriate specialist qualification. the Canary Islands. Extremadura. the pregnancy is the result of rape (Article 429). Catalonia. although the new article provides that: 1. which sets out the criteria with which authorized clinics must comply and the provisions for the legal practice of abortion. the Council of Ministers approved a text for the preparation of a new article. provided that the rape has been reported to the police and the abortion is performed within the first twelve weeks of the pregnancy. Castile-Leon. and therefore abortion remains a crime in Spain (Arroyo-Zapatero. Castile-La Mancha. An aspect that I believe it is important to comment upon. neither of whom is the physician by whom or under whom the abortion is to be performed. although the grounds on which it is based justify the need for time frames. a pregnant woman is not penalized even if the abortion is not performed in an approved public or private centre or establishment. and Murcia. is that when the Spanish Socialists came to power in 1982. of 21 November . 2. Neither do the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla. and with the legalization of abortion being one of the promises they made in their election manifesto. if carried to term. 1983:70). Castile-Leon. (Organic Law 9/1985). will suffer from severe physical or mental defects. Aragon. Asturias. in accordance with an opinion expressed prior to the abortion by a physician. no social requirement was included But there is more still. only eight autonomous regions —Andalusia. There shall be no penalties for abortions performed by or under the direction of a physician in an approved public or private health centre or establishment. which would be incorporated into the Penal Code. Under the above circumstances. communicated prior to the abortion. that the fetus. was not amended. or 3. other than the one performing the abortion or under whose direction the abortion is to be performed. 10 .abortion. In 1983. So. of July 5. There are five autonomous regions that have no public service which performs abortions: Navarre. is expressed by two specialists of an approved public or private health center or establishment. the abortion is necessary to avert a serious risk to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman. Organic Law 9/1985 has been classed as weak because. or if the prescribed medical opinions have not been expressed. the process to enact a law that permitted abortion was speeded up. Article 417. Should there an emergency due to risk to the life of the pregnant woman. Article 417bis. there is specific legislation that duly regulates the practice of abortion and the public and private establishments where abortions are performed: Spanish Organic Law 9/1985. and Spanish Royal Decree 2409/1986. 2. the required report and express consent may be omitted. provided that the woman gives her express consent to the procedure and one of the following conditions is met: 1. whereby Article 417bis of the Penal Code was amended (hereinafter ‘Organic Law 9/1985’) which sets out three circumstances in which abortion may be legally performed. and Valencia— have private abortion clinics. Madrid.

and. there are still complaints filed with the courts and police against professionals and women. of April 25. in which abortion was still a practice that carried a high legal risk. Firstly. or that these problems do not justify having an abortion. It is not a question of a right that the pregnant woman has over her own body. Moreover. a woman can have an abortion under a law based on ‘requirements’. Under current legislation in Spain. 12 Since it was becoming increasingly obvious that the current law does not provide sufficient legal and medical protection for women who have an abortion and of the medical personnel who attend to them. court rulings are not enforced. it does address the underlying cause. The reasons that were presented for the purpose of broadening the law were tailored to the circumstances that were taking place in Spain in 2000. only a narrow system of specific requirements was passed. for example. therefore. rather than a voluntary termination of the pregnancy. Consequently. the non-specific terminology in the aforementioned Organic Law 9/1985 is obvious in the reference to “…the physician who is performing the abortion or under whose direction the abortion is to be performed…. due to the social pressure. Likewise. 11 . understand as “necessity” because of not having the financial resources to attend to the birth of a child. If someone insisted on justifying that having a child against her will does not carry mental health problems for the woman. there is a ‘de-criminalization’ of abortion. where the woman’s voluntary decision 12 “Social recommendation” which in this investigation becomes the main reason why women decide to have an abortion. It is only when the pregnant woman’s life is in danger that there are no time limits. or 24 weeks of amenorrhea a woman who is feeling desperate may decide. which is precisely the flaw in the law itself. since the alleged ‘voluntary decision’ depends on the decision of medical experts. What is prohibited from the third month of pregnancy in France. in this country. the implication is that a woman does not decide to have an abortion voluntarily. Obviously. therefore. according to the provisions of General Law 14/1986 on Health. The seeming equality with other European countries. On the other hand. that is. the right is transferred from the woman to them. but out of necessity created by a circumstance. A fact that establishes the legal insufficiency of Organic Law 9/1985. The issue of the legitimacy of abortion poses questions of diverse scope. to have an abortion. based on an arbitrary age of pregnancy that differs from one country to the other. in 2000 the Mixed Parliamentary Group presented a new bill in which it acknowledged that in 15 years. they can file a claim based on it. Therefore. Organic Law 9/1985. 12.” and sets out the circumstances in which “there shall be no penalties” for the abortion. meanwhile. or it would appear that she can decide for herself. this legal uncertainty violates the intimacy and freedom of women. although there has been a relative standardization of abortion. Linked to the legitimacy of abortion is the confusing terminology that is used to classify it —‘voluntary termination of pregnancy’ or ‘VTOP’— perhaps since this avoids using the term ‘abortion’. is legal in England or Holland until the fifth month of the pregnancy. for instance. the explanation as to why up to 10. a circumstance of judicial vulnerability that also leads medical personnel to abstain from performing abortions and the ‘conscientious objection’ by others in hospitals and clinics of the public health care system. there is no reference to the consent that must be given to any medical act. it is up to the doctors. the uneven criteria in the application of the Organic Law 9/1985 means that. The question is that such terminology neither corresponds to the law nor to the reality in Spain for. the abortion would be illegal. if the voluntary decision to have an abortion is the only reason for having one. and in many other European countries. Since the law stipulates that there must be a reason for the abortion and sets forth certain restrictions.

undeniable illness of the pregnant woman (HIV/AIDS. Even though Spanish law does not take a pregnant woman’s voluntary decision into consideration. legislation on abortion and on clinics and establishments authorized to perform abortions. and religious discourses following the Spanish Socialists’ victory in the general election on March 9. I must also add to the issues I’ve presented that of the growing politicization of medical. 12 . and methods for abortion. by authorizing termination on the grounds of a risk to her mental health.592 abortions were performed in 2006 (Spanish Department for Health and Consumer Affairs. Abortions due to a woman’s mental health. 2007). One example of this is that although 101. they must be backed by two thirds of the Spanish Parliament and it seems that they do not have enough support. ‘lawful termination of pregnancy. In 2006. is whether the Spanish Socialists will have enough parliamentary support to amend the Organic Law 9/1985 because. the medical personnel who perform the prenatal diagnosis that detects fetal anomalies is ignorant of the resources. most medical personnel who learn methods for abortion do so outside of their medical education and training. or in the training of resident physicians who specialize in gynecology. is completely incorrect. or of 14 weeks as is contemplated in Spain. current legislation permits abortion in almost all cases in which the woman does not want to continue the pregnancy. The classification ‘LTOP’ is used for abortions performed in public health centers and due to indisputable fetal malformation (up to a limit of 22 weeks of pregnancy). for it leads one to have doubts or to construe that other terms for abortion (‘abortion. Social forces are mobilizing themselves and demanding a new law on abortion. With the WHO’s definition of health in mind.51% of the total number of abortions performed (Spanish Department of Health and Consumer Affairs. that is.’ which is a euphemism. may have led to use of the same term that. as in the case of France. Another aspect to highlight is the World Health Organization’s (WHO) definition of ‘health’: “Health is a state of complete physical. is an essential requirement if the current law is amended. are classed under the term ‘VTOP’ and are performed in authorized private clinics (88. and severe. There are some hidden ambiguities in this apparent standardization of the practice of abortion in Spain. to do so. shall continue to be subject to the rule and will lose its meaning of “Determination of one’s own will by mere desire and with no other reason for to resolve it” and its “quality of voluntary” (Real Academia Española – Diccionario de la lengua española. from colleagues in the profession (Rodríguez Armario. 2008. therefore.’ ‘VTOP. 13 In any case. based on law and on the existing facilities. therefore. in the Spanish case. mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity” (World Health Organization. rape (after the rape has been reported and up to a limit of 12 weeks of pregnancy). Voluntary decision.38%) and in private hospitals (9. however.’ etc. as in France for instance. 2007:17).11%) (Spanish Department of Health and Consumer Affairs. The question.’ or ‘LTOP. It happens that there is another term. United Nations Chronicles of the World Health Organization). the time limit of 12 weeks. and to do it they are putting pressure on the Spanish Socialists to prove their self-proclaimed sensitivity towards social issues. 2007:18). This is the case because it is not on the syllabus in most medical and nursing schools. 2000). unwanted pregnancies obviously have a negative impact on the mental and physical health of pregnant women. 2000). legal–political. such operations made up 2. legal requirements. abortion is a practice with which medical personnel are virtually unfamiliar. Moreover.is legal grounds for abortion 13 within a time limit.) are unlawful. and provides either inaccurate information or no information about the option to abort in these circumstances (Rodríguez Armario. cancer. diagnosed mental illness). Thus.

But misoprostol. the media also take it upon themselves. because they are afraid. by different bodies of the autonomous region of Madrid. For this reason.” The connection between religion and politics With government being its logical conclusion. it is because there is a visible movement against abortion. they can turn both the women who have the abortions and the medical personnel who work at the clinics and establishments were abortions are performed into criminals. so they resort to abortion methods which put their own life in danger. Another outcome is that. which set out who must weild power. The leaflet that comes with the pills specifies that the drug is designed to protect the stomach and is for gastric and duodenum ulcers. above all between 2007 and 2008. In late 2007. The worst scenario is when they do not go to the clinics and they cannot terminate the pregnancy. the drug’s active principle. 13 . or they do when too many weeks of pregnancy have passed. furthermore. and in Madrid these clinics are being pursued by the administration. frightened they will be reported. also causes contractions in the womb that facilitate the expulsion of the embryo or fetus. is easy to acquire over the Internet. and England. and. and they do not know how to resolve the situation. particularly by using the drug called Cytotec. However. Organic Law 9/1985 seemed sufficient because it has been construed in the broadest sense. the police have raided several clinics. no one knew what their fate would be. the law is so ambiguous that if someone chooses to interpret it from a more prohibitive perspective and consider that the medical personnel who use it in a broad sense are criminals. they had to witness how what they thought was a right of theirs transformed them into potential criminals. with varying degrees of success (and in line with their own political sympathies). to disseminate messages that scare women. manufactured by the Pfizer laboratory. politics consists fundamentally of rules. In Barcelona. for instance. a huge controversy erupted over the persecution of private abortion clinics. so I took three and then I placed another two there … down there … in my private parts. for several weeks. Until now. it has been sold secretly in Latin America for years. At the same time. The women relived their painful ordeal and. A number of women were charged with illegal abortion and. of a way to make decisions. making them have doubts as to the legality of abortion in Spain. Politics are likewise linked to the rules and regulations of society. was not invented to terminate pregnancies. 14 The drug Cytotec. to attain aims that are supposedly in the interest of the group in question. 14 This testimony from one interviewee illustrates the whole situation: “… A friend who travelled here brought me them [Cytotec] because they’re cheaper in my country and here they’re so expensive … (…) … I didn’t know how many to take. One of the consequences is that they come to the Association terrified. they do not come to the Association. at present. and if they also find a loophole in the law to act. and they didn’t do anything to me … (…) … I asked my friend for more and she warned me that I should be careful because so many pills were going to do something horrible to me. and this movement is very active in countries such as Spain. which is more or less coercive. of procedures to perform certain tasks and of expectations regarding rights and privileges. it should be added that there are Catholic and hard-line Catholic groups who declare on an almost daily basis that the courts must close down abortion clinics and send the medical personnel who work in them to prison. when controversy breaks out. In addition to all of this.If discourses have become politicized. Italy. the pain! … (…) … but my pregnancy didn’t end …. But I wanted it removed [to abort the pregnancy] and asked her for another four aaaand … Good God! It did something horrible that I never thought of: it made me bleed! I was taken to the emergency ward because blood was running down my legs … Oh.

according to the testimonies gathered. faced with the lack of strength or resources to do anything else: “… it’s because this [abortion] is not practiced in my country. days of saints). 14 . and that when it does this is because God has allowed this to happen. Linked to this notion. since it obstructs conception and the sexual intercourse therefore becomes unjustifiable. I can establish that the official principle of the three religions that I have gathered from the interviewees —Catholic. I ask God to forgive me…”. and it is wrong to not accept what God has sent you … (…) … I’ve had a really horrible time because of what I did [have an abortion]. and contraceptives. destructive tendency inherent in competition for this same reward. in the form of restricting work on certain days (Friday. In line with this interference of religion. Muslim.. The interviewees who declared they were Catholics assert that their doctrine maintains that any kind of artificial interference with conception (contraceptives) is. a mandate that is outside the domain of any kind of earthly authority and ranks above it. or of anguish with regard to what may happen. so conception itself takes on a spiritual. or from using the T [IUD] because they’re going to disapprove of you because there we believe that that …as I was going to say …that is a sin! Because God is the one who sends you your children. Johnstone (2007:146) adds that religion is neither powerless nor does it remain silent. but consider that sexual intercourse does not always procreate. almost sacramental. There they think that if you got pregnant. The Muslim women I met show similar beliefs to the Catholic women regarding the disapproval of abortion. and Evangelical— rejects any selection between beings that are created. situations of solitude. and in the rejection of abortion. pork and suckling lambs). the Catholic Church has always tried to block any attempt to amend laws which make abortion more accessible and facilitate the use of contraception. Furthermore. Therefore. You can’t have an abortion there. which may degenerate into a war of everyone against everyone. the rules according to which coercive power is allocated and the process under which the governing principles for enforced power and authority are implemented are understood as a political concept. that of a divine attribute by which God’s creatures are forgiven. character. A significant sphere in which religion penetrates the political system is ‘moral legislation’. sexual intercourse is only completely justified for the purposes of procreation. in which he specifies that politics is the process of determining the distribution of rewards in society and balancing power relations and protests. However. it’s because it was your turn. There is a remarkable amount of religious influence on the laws. Sunday. Easter).. to some extent. in prohibiting the consumption of certain products (alcohol. Its ideology has penetrated the collective consciousness deeply and there it remains. sinful. This concept fits the one Harold Lasswell (1958) proposes in his classic definition. in deeming certain days of the year public holidays (Christmas. although it is approved of if it is a matter of saving the life of the 15 “Mercy” as it is understood under the Christian doctrine. for instance. These circumstances may mitigate the resultant personal blame and feeling of guilt for many women who make an anti-life choice. it exerts a major influence on politics. because we’re different. It may be considered as ‘mercy’ 15 for people who breach the law. every day I’m on this earth. In these faiths. rather. some believers maintain the idea that anti-life choices sometimes emerge due to difficult or dramatic situations. No way!. and every day. And don’t even let your family know that you take those pills that stop you from getting pregnant. These three faiths do not deny the role of sexuality in conception.Government and politics are institutions implemented in a society to regulate the process of searching for reward and to reduce the disruptive. euthanasia.

these feelings adjust to the cultural classification of the society to which the person belongs. I am actually a mother … I have three girls who I brought up myself because I’m not with him … (…) … but this [having an abortion] is going to be really hard for me because God won’t be able to look me in the face or anything. you cannot. But a child is sacred to a Muslim. each person reacts differently to pain in their own way depending on their threshold for it. since human beings experience it differently depending on their life and social origins. however. she cannot. People learn through socialization. that only “… God gives life and God takes life…. but they say that any other kind of abortion is indeed a crime and goes against the law of God: “… well. yes. because it is bad if you kill a child … and that is what I did … Praise be to Allah! For He knows what I did… [she cries]…”. I’m nothing because it gives me strength to bring up my daughters … And I promised God that this wasn’t going to happen again [it will be her third abortion] and that I’m going to go every day. For it is written in the Koran. though all women of this faith are completely against it in practice. for I have been for five months without a home and a job.pregnant woman. and you know that a Muslim woman can only have a child if she marries a man. and on top of it I’m to blame … He knows …. and pray for His forgiveness because I feel really bad … (…) … I ask God to forgive me because this is killing … murdering my son or daughter because I still don’t know what it will be. claim the interviewees. She can have it removed and it is okay. furthermore. All things considered. which is not a mere biological fact. some of them feel that it is up to one’s individual conscience. have the child removed before 40 days have passed. With regard to the Evangelical interviewees. but this is killing and.” In any case. then if she becomes pregnant everyone tells you you’re a bad Muslim… that you’re a whore! … (…) … A Muslim woman can. The interviewees assert that God cares for all human beings and accepts them as they are. very devout. their religion allows them to have an abortion before 40 days from the moment of conception have elapsed. who sends it to me [the pregnancy] … (…) … God knows what I’m going through. it may be agreed that pain is culturally acquired and not a universal fact.” One of the other issues that emerged from my research is the notion of redeeming the ‘blame’ for having an abortion through suffering many of the interviewees have expressed. A clear example of this is the experience of pain. an act which Islam condemns as if it was a crime: “… Muslim believer. and I have no money. the appropriate attitude towards abortion tends to be ‘nonjudgmental’ when the abortion is justified. because if they find out… they won’t even let me in! … And without the church. This form of redemption is directly linked to experiencing pain. that it’s an act against God. nothing. to me. when the pregnancy is a mere case of “bloods that are coming together” or “it is only a thing that is not a child. These women also say that people are not strictly responsible for any misfortunes that may befall them. every day on this earth. which includes religious beliefs among other significant aspects. But after 40 days. I’m neither married nor single. they are evils that occur and are beyond their possibility of control. there is the implicit content transmitted by the membership group and. for He wholly respects them as free individuals. According to some of the Muslim women I have met in the research. all operations that affect the embryo or the fetus are comparable to an action performed upon a live being that has already been born.” they say. Thus. but which has its own meaning. The common school of thought from this perspective is that there 15 . but I had to do it [have an abortion] … Praise be to Allah! May I receive His forgiveness because I have not been able to have a child. and in the revival meeting [she’s an Evangelical] I won’t say a single word. For this reason. because people feel things on different levels. I. no matter how immoral or unworthy they may be considered. that it’s really wrong. If she does not get married. in their unmediated conversation with God. this is very … well … I know that I shouldn’t do this. When a person experiences and expresses feelings. to decide if an abortion is lawful.

and. This may be the cause of the desire to amend for the wrong-doings committed by suffering. and it can give the woman the chance to show her ability to control herself. although it doesn’t look like it because I am in the situation I’m in and they’ll terminate the pregnancy. and I’ve spoken to Him. it is not declared as a service or hardly ever so. their soul is released from the unbearable weight of their sin: “…I’ll learn. a reflection about the status of the embryo or the fetus is undertaken. For this reason. then it’s of no use to you … (…) … I think I’ll learn from this forever because I’d never felt pain like this before … Of course. the question is posed of when the embryo or fetus becomes a ‘person’. Muslim and Evangelical— place the emphasis on a ‘spiritual’ conception. I sense that pain is an extreme way of transforming subjectivity via the body. and I pray for Him to forgive me … (…) … I think that. on a legal–political level. which leads the way to the blessed body along a path of sacrifice and redemption. Physical suffering is one of the most immediate ways of experiencing a change inside. with the suffering…I believe He will forgive me…”. and religious spheres intertwine to form a single discourse that clearly influences the decisions of women who have an abortion. condemn abortion. born from the womb of a woman. until recent times. legal–political. or one of the most common operations. restricting the governance of the earthly institutions over the rights of the first-born child. becomes something ‘normal’ when it is associated with the redemption from blame for infringing divine principles. by experiencing it. and the suffering body. say the interviewees). since it’s the first time this has happened to me [have an abortion]. because of all I’m suffering with this and the rough time I’m having. for their own theological reasons. therefore. performed upon women in Spain. it becomes a painful test that makes the woman who is new to abortion suffer a shock to her body’s nature (those who have had an abortion before feel the shock too. The complexity of that study triggers the debate about the fetal stage and. This experience of change is memorable (because you ‘learn’ what not to do. I think I would be living with the punishment for ever because there is no repentance because you do not ask Him for forgiveness. arises regarding this question. It seems that this is an essential transition for these women. experiencing pain. The scarce representation of abortion can be linked to the fact that. that if you don’t have a clue. is not linked to one form or another of ritual or symbolism. Having studied the information provided by the interviewees. building further on this perspective. that way I’ll learn because I believe that when you have to go through a rough time you learn. too. even though the body acquires the status of a mere instrument. This is related directly to the complex controversy which. He’ll understand … because. but to a lesser degree). For quite a few women. Abortion. But abortion has never been treated as a normal practice and. And from the testimonies presented here. Ultimately. and. pain and bodily torture are praised as gestures to redeem oneself of guilt in the eyes of one’s god and receive eternal life. But I believe in God. Special Remarks Despite the universal character of abortion. the 16 . of course. Driven by the requirement to defend the possibility of God incarnate. it is not approached as a similar practice to others. associated with the mental pain linked to religious ideology. with the exception of in medical books. but with everything I’m going though. even though termination of pregnancy within the first three months is the most common operation. therefore.are two established destinies for the body: the blessed body that will be rewarded when it departs from this world. since. one can imagine how the ideas comprising each one of the medical. if I didn’t feel something like those who go and terminate and just go on like nothing has happened!). the three faiths —Catholic. then I can’t tell you how I’d be if they had done it to me again … which isn’t the case thank God! I’m not having an easy time because I’m a believer.

the women I have met in this research mitigate stress. will release them from their responsibility. On the other hand. This is a fact confirmed by the majority of the interviewees. despite the changes that have taken place in society. the de-criminalization or legalization of abortion. a part of their inner self. classing it as murder. a male prerogative. socialization. and that is one of the main causes of the problem. Women must develop a capacity for introspection that will lead them to decipher expressions and thoughts that are difficult to be aware of because they tend to be involuntary. since it exited the womb prematurely and did not survive. as well as by recent studies which have identified that women still perceive motherhood as natural. Abortion should be defended from the perspective of law. and gender relations. 17 . have the right to terminate pregnancies that invade their own lives and threaten their integrity. with this introspection. and a central part in the construction of ‘normal’ femininity. religious faith. caused by the development of medical–scientific technology. Obviously this statement could be refuted with the argument that throughout history women have exercised their right to abortion in different ways. a fact which seems undeniable. faces new problems. Basically. as independent beings with faculties of reason. this is especially difficult when the different spheres of learning teach very different values based on the excellence and prestige of women as mothers. politics. or the attempt to carry it out. This process.embryo or fetus was not acknowledged as a being with an identity and assessed as such. and making criminals of both the women who have abortions and medical personnel who perform them. The right to ‘kill’ has been. or attempt to introspect during the interviews. from education. So. it is so because they must go through their own private worry over a decision that leads them to doubt themselves because they are more or less consciously establishing loss of control over their own body. the credibility and effort of this work has been undermined by the development of visualization technology. and no funeral was held for it. These are nuances that illustrate the vast differences which. Nonetheless. the advances of which some pressure groups use to win status for the embryo or fetus as a person. who. has been held by men. based on the interaction of factors such as age. and they come to experience abortion as an undesirable but logical act. Likewise. for abortion is a sexual and reproductive right. abortion is no trivial act. in those days it was a secret practice —and still is in those places where abortion is illegal— that for many women entailed risking their life. One must add to this the religious ideas that are based on traditional moral frameworks and penetrate broad sectors of society. depending on the country. fundamentally. justified by demands linked to a better life and which range from the indiscriminate killing of animals to the killing of one another. Therefore. however. medicine. However. from the family. motherhood is still women’s ‘destiny’. I can assert that abortion is a difficult practice to cope with for any of the women who have taken part in this ethnographical research. And because. The impact of abortion has a clearly different scope and intensity. The effect of this technology has been to reestablish beliefs according to which the embryos or fetuses that can be ‘seen’ using ultrasound are autonomous. condemning abortion. Therefore. since it is a woman’s prerogative that. the desire for this as inevitable and unquestionable. it is not unusual for there still to be disputes over abortion. setting pregnancy and abortion as independent from religion. it must be defended as the demand of women. and death. it was given no surname. after more than 36 years (24 years in the case of Spain) of striving to make abortion legal. in this particular context. and social norms. Consequently. Even so. it is a human right. historically. go back to the existing inequalities between men and women.

And the content assimilated during socialization includes values. I Conferences on abortions in reproductive health. AGAMBEN. 18 . and. Valencia: Pretextos. (1998) Homo sacer. and ideologies. FOUCAULT.VV. rules and regulations. G.But in any case and circumstances. H. DIARIO EL PERIÓDICO DE CATALUNYA (2008) “Catalunya recupera la fecunditat del 1984 amb 1. cultural. El Periódico de Catalunya. BOLTANSKI. 2008. M. etc. (1999) El control social de los cuerpos. Una arqueología de la mirada médica. R.48 fills per dona”. References AA. LASSWELL. When and How. (1983) Nacimiento de la clínica. DETREZ. El poder soberano y la nuda vida. A Sociology of Religion. The conditions that unfold upon the confirmation of the pregnancy. (2007) Religion in Society. Buenos Aires: Eudeba. New York: Meridian Books. depending on how they do it. that women take on board in particularly. etc. (2000) “El aborto quirúrgico del primer trimestre” [Abortion in the first three months”]. post-abortion check-up. New Jersey: Pearson/Prentice Hall. Regardless of the personal process for each woman. L. Speech. although both are closely linked. Seville. NIEVAS. L. S. and it is therefore not enough to legalize abortion for it to shed its criminal character. the process of personal acceptance is the fundamental issue that women will have to change. on the other hand. ARROYO-ZAPATERO. and deeply so. (2004) La condition foetale. F. L.) La despenalización del aborto [“The decriminalization of abortion] Barcelona: Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. come to the Association. Une sociologie de l’engendrement et de l’avortement.) will become a process that will either strengthen her feeling that she is acting responsibly or. June 4. make her feel guilty and ashamed. RODRÍGUEZ ARMARIO. and religious taboos. Friday. Paris: Gallimard. the situation in which the abortion is performed must also be taken into consideration. The whole path that the woman must follow (go to a health care center. “Demography” section. Madrid: Salvat. admittance at the clinic where the abortion will be performed. (1958) Politics: Who Gets What. It is worth bearing in mind that abortion is a transgressive practice because it contravenes social. (1983) “Prohibición del aborto y Constitución” [Prohibition of abortion and Constitution”] in MIR. (2003) DICCIONARIO LA ENCICLOPEDIA. in such a socially valued sphere as is the creation of human beings. May 11 to 13. Ch. it will have one type of post-abortion consequences or another. E. (ed. JOHNSTONE. Paris: Seuil. (2002) La construction social du corps. Mexico: Siglo XXI.

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